Tips For Parents Struggling With Bullied Children

The last thing any parent wants to hear is that their child is being bullied at school. There are several reasons a child might be bullied, and none of them are good. The negative effects bullying can have on young people can haunt them through their entire lives. If you know your child is the victim of this, don’t lose hope. Whether the bullying is because of their weight, height, or brains, here are some tips to help you, and your child, overcome their fears and end bullying.

Remind Them They Did Nothing Wrong

John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

The first thing to remind your son or daughter if they’re being bullied is that it’s not their fault. Teenagers and children who are bullied for being overweight often believe they deserve to be bullied.

Rebecca Puhl, an expert in the area explained, “A lot of teens internalize the stigma of being overweight and blame themselves for being bullied. They think it’s their fault for not being thin.” The best thing you can do as a parent in this situation is reinforce the inner strength of your child.

Do Not Support A Weight Loss Plan To Stop The Torment

John Moore / Getty Images
John Moore / Getty Images

The worst thing you can do is enourage your child to lose weight just to stop the bullying. This only reinforces the idea in your teen that their weight is the reason their being teased.

What you can do is work with your teen to adopt healthier eating habits. If there is a health issue in your family, it can be a great bonding experience to work on the issue together. It can also be a great way to help rebuild your teens shattered self-confidence.

Watch What You Say

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Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images

If you address your child by a nickname, be careful with what nickname you choose. Anything with a negative connotation could have an even worse effect on your adolescent. Use your best judgment, after all, you know your child best.

To highlight an extreme version of this, pediatric doctor Tyree Winters says, “We don’t call someone ‘asthma kid’ or ‘sickle-cell kid’ but we do use language like ‘big man’ and ‘little fatty.’ If you’re a parent, put yourself in your child’s shoes.”

Help Them Cultivate Their Talents

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Adam Gray / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Whatever your teenager’s interests are, make sure you help cultivate and develop them. Do they have a passion for the performing arts? Encourage them to try out for the school play. Make sure they know they are capable of anything they set their minds to.

Finding out they’re good at something can do amazing things for their self-esteem. Even if it doesn’t stop the bullying, it will provide a shield against the taunting that keeps them up at night.

Listen Without Judgement

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

If your child chooses you to be the person they open up to about being bullied, listen to them. Don’t say anything, don’t make any noises, and don’t express any emotions. Just listen to what your child is saying.

Giving them this judgment-free zone will help them feel safe. There’s a good chance they don’t feel like they have safe place at home or school to begin with. Now you’ve given them one, and it was one of the easiest things you could have done.

Create An Action Plan With Your Child

John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

Now that you know what is going with your bullied child, help them create an action plan to stop the bullying. Help them come up with intervention strategies. You don’t want your child to go from bullied to bully.

The plan should work towards your kid’s strengths. A good plan will help build self-confidence and resilience. Once the plan is created, share it with the other adults who interact with your child on a daily basis.

Learn Your Rights

Clara Margais/picture alliance via Getty Images
Clara Margais/picture alliance via Getty Images

Every state has different legislation when it comes to bullying, so it’s important to know what your state’s laws are. Some states require all school to have safe rooms. Others don’t. There are plenty of resources online to find this information.

You should also check with your child’s school about their own policies. Every school is going to have a different set of rules. If at all possible, enroll your child in the school that best fits their needs.

Create A Support Team

MICHAEL MATHES/AFP/Getty Images
MICHAEL MATHES/AFP/Getty Images

Make sure that you create a support team around your child that you trust. Keep written records for your own personal history. Know who you need to call in certain situations, or who needs to call you when something happens.

Keep everyone in the loop about what is going on in your teen’s life. If nothing seems to work, contact a guidance counselor or other health professional for help. If the situation still doesn’t change, consider getting law enforcement involved.

Become An Active Community Member

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

One great way to get involved with your adolescent’s life and have a positive impact is to become a more active member of the community. By being directly involved in the community you can help create awareness for issues other parents might not be aware of.

Don’t be afraid to take a leadership role if you need to. Attend training workshops to better prepare yourself for how to deal with difficult situations when they arise. Be involved and active as much as you can.

Intervene

Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images
Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images

Let your teen know that if they witness someone being bullied, they should intervene. According to research, more than half of bullying end when a friend intervenes. This means that your child’s peers can have a huge impact.

Remind your child that bullying isn’t fun or funny. Don’t encourage them to join in on the action. Instead, encourage them to try and stop it. And make sure they know you don’t want them to stop it by getting into a physical fight!

Witnesses Should Tell An Adult

David Livingston/Getty Images
David Livingston/Getty Images

A student who is being bullied might not be too scared to tell an adult. Tell your child that if they see someone being bullied and don’t want to intervene, they should tell an adult.

Telling an adult what is going on is not bad. It is not snitching. It is them trying to keep a peer from being hurt, either physically or emotionally. If your teen thinks that seeing others get hurt is okay, then you need to sit down with them for a long conversation.

Ask Your Teen To Be Supportive

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Doug Jones/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The best thing your teenager can do to help a peer in need is to show their support. Ask your son or daughter how they would feel if they were in the victim’s shoes.

Relating the situation to them can be a powerful tool in making them realize they have the power to make a difference. Their support can include the ways listed above as well as involving the affected teen in activities they are participating in.

Let Them Know Their Behavior Is Negative

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Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Children and teenagers who become bullies need to learn that their behavior is negative. A lot of time, they are reacting to another teenager a way they think is power. As you know by now, bullying is never funny.

Sit down with your child and tell them that their bullying is harming others. Explain why and don’t be afraid to get into detail. One of the only ways they will learn to change their behavior is to know why it’s wrong in the first place.

Tell Them Their Behavior Won’t Be Tolerated

Kris Connor/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company
Kris Connor/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

Without turning into a bully yourself, be stern with your child and let them know that their negative behavior will not be tolerated. You have to be very careful when you do this.

Don’t yell at your child or talk down to them. Like most other tips we’ve gone through, stay calm, be stern, and explain to them why they need to improve the way they are treating the people around them. Give your child respect so they, in turn, can be respectful.

They Might Be Trying To Fit In

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Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images

If you know your child has become a bully, sit down with them to figure out why. Studies show that some kids turn to bullying to fit in with their peers.

If this is the case, encourage your child to participate in more positive activities. Assign them job where they take leadership roles, instead of following someone else’s orders. Once they can build their own individual personality, they won’t feel the need to make people feel smaller than them.

They Might Be Trying To Fight Back

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Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images

Another reason children become bullies is to fight back against anyone picking on them. Their natural response isn’t always to defend themselves. Sometimes it’s easier for them to take out their pent up emotions on other students.

This kind of bullying chain can lead to a toxic environment at school or even at home. If you notice your child’s behavior is beginning to trend in a negative direction, don’t wait to ask them about it.

Think About How You Might Be Affecting Your Child’s Behavior

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Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

How are you treating your teenager at home? You might not realize negative behavior you’re exhibiting toward your child. Stop for a second and think about the way you’re treating your kid.

Make sure you’re not over-pressuring your child. Their workload at school is stressful enough without the perception of you constantly breathing down their neck with expectation. Support them with their work instead of making it feel like a chore. They might not lash out in you from anger and stress, but they will lash out at someone else.

Show Your Child Their Actions Have Consequences

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Gideon Mendel/In Pictures/Corbis via Getty Images

Without using the word punishment, make sure your child knows that their actions have consequences. If they’re bullying their peers, they need to be handed down negative consequences for their negative behaviors. Just remember, whatever you do, don’t do anything in any way your child can perceive as you bullying them.

On the other side, if their behavior is positive, continue to reinforce that with positive consequences. This helps teach your child empathy and can prevent them from acting out and making poor decisions in the future.

Have Your Child Apologize To Whoever They Are Bullying

Francis DEMANGE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Francis DEMANGE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Once you know that your child is actively bullying another student, it’s not always enough to tell them to stop. You also need to make sure apologize to their victim to let them know they did nothing wrong.

Have your child write a letter apologizing to whoever they bullied. If they have bullied more than one person, have them write a letter to each person explaining what what they did was wrong. Then have your child do something nice for the person.

Make Them Pay For Any Property Damage

Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

If your child has gone far enough to damage property belonging to another student, have them pay for the damage. But don’t just hand them money to then give to their victim, make them do chores or other things to earn the money.

This ideas goes along with teaching children that their are consequences for their actions. Making them work to pay back their peer helps teach responsibility and will make them think twice before causing any more material harm to another person.