How to Help Your Child Cope with Bullying

Thursday October 31, 2013

By Sherri M. Gordon

By now, your kids have probably adjusted to school. They are out of the summer routine and have fallen into their school routine. And hopefully, it has been a smooth transition this school year.

Unfortunately though, for some parents and their children the transition has been anything but smooth. Instead, their kids have faced the challenges of being bullied. And for them, these few short months of school have felt like years instead.

In fact, already this school year, we have seen a number of tragedies related to bullying. For instance, in September a 15-year-old Connecticut boy shot and killed himself after years of bullying. And in May a 12-year-old New York girl hanged herself mentioning cyberbullying in her note. Not only are situations like these heartbreaking, but they also are scary for parents whose children are being bullied.

If your child is being bullied, it's normal to worry that your child might attempt something so drastic in order to escape the pain. And while no one can predict what another will do, you can take steps to help your child.

Aside from reporting the bullying and working with the school to keep your child safe, you need to take steps to help your child heal. The first step in the healing process is getting their child screened for depression by a pediatrician or other medical professional. In fact, depression, bullying and suicide are all intricately related. And, because bullying is so traumatic, it's important to address the emotional trauma associated with bullying.

The second step is to get your child outside help if needed. And the third step is to keep the lines of communication open. What you say to your child immediately after a bullying incident and during the healing process has a significant impact on your child's healing. So be sure you are empowering and encouraging your child. Help her focus on her goals and not on the bullying she experienced.

Likewise, parents also should take steps to prevent future bullying incidents. This involves everything from building self-esteem and resiliency, to teaching assertiveness, social skills and perseverance. Parents also should talk to their kids about things victims should never do and help them identify bullying hot spots.

Lastly, parents should be extremely careful not to make some of the most common mistakes parents make like ignoring the bullying, dramatizing it or gossiping about it. Instead, your focus should be helping your child heal and overcome the incident. And make sure you take steps to prevent future incidents.

For more ideas on what you can do to help your child, check out 8 Skills Kids Need to Avoid Bullies and 9 Ways Kids Can Defend Themselves Against Bullies.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

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