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Bye, Bye, Bullies

How to help both the victim and the aggressor


Bullying can lead to emotional and sometimes even bodily pain. It can be verbal, social, or physical says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and it’s something most children will be exposed to at school, either directly or indirectly (by witnessing it).

Bullying can occur on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, via phone or text message, or over the Internet. The AAP offers the following advice for how parents can help.

When your child is bullied

Help him learn how to respond by teaching him to:
• Look the bully in the eye.
• Stand tall and stay calm.
• Walk away.
• Say, calmly and firmly: “I don’t like what you’re doing,” “Please do not talk to me like that,” or “Why would you say that?”
• Know when and how to ask for help.

As a parent, you can:

• Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
• Support activities that interest your child.
• Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
• Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and wellbeing when you can’t be there.

When you suspect (or know) your child is the bully

• Be sure your child knows bullying is never okay.
• Set firm, consistent limits on his aggressive behavior.
• Be a positive role model. Show kids they can get what they want without teasing, threatening, or hurting someone.
• Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
• Develop practical solutions with the principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the kids your child has bullied.

When your child is a bystander

• Tell her not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
• Encourage him to tell a trusted adult about the incident.
• Help her support other children who may be bullied. Encourage her to include these children in activities.
• Encourage him to join with others in telling bullies to stop. 

Kathy Sena is a freelance journalist. Visit her blog at parenttalktoday.com.

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