It can be very difficult as a parent to watch your child come home from school in tears, withdrawn, or moody only to find out that they are being teased or bullied at school. Here are some key tips to support your child and help resolve the situation as effectively as possible.
- Listen to your child without judgement. Allow your child to tell you the full story in their own words without interruptions and minimal reactions. It is already difficult for a child to recount what has happened so they may minimize what happened if they feel you are getting upset. Use open ended questions and phrases such as: tell more about that, how so?
- Find out the facts. When appropriate make sure you get the who, what, when, and where of what occurred so that you can record it and let your child’s teacher know. Keep a record of an future incidents.
- Problem solve. Engage in problem solving with your child so that they know how to self-advocate if the situation occurs again. Come up with several strategies (including finding a safe teacher or administrator that your child can go to) with whom your child feels comfortable. Practice using the strategies with role play.
- Reach out. Talk to your child’s teacher as soon as possible. Keep in mind that teachers don’t always and can’t always know when bullying occurs. Kids are smart and know when to tease/make cruel remarks when the teacher is occupied or out of earshot.
- Ask for a copy of your school district’s bullying policy. This will send the message that you know how to advocate for your child. Also, every school should make this available to parents upon request by law.
- Take your concerns up the chain of command. If the problem persists, meet with your child’s school principal and ask for documentation of how the problem will be resolved. Familiarize yourself with the state law and pursue that the school do a full investigation and document a case of HIB (Harrassment, Intimidation, or Bullying) if you feel like you are not getting results.
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- Watch for signs of serious stress, anxiety or depression. Having your child talk to a professional can be particularly helpful especially if you see emotional or behavioral signs of stress such as social withdrawal, sleep issues, changes in appetite, or mood swings.