How to react when your child is being bullied

Joel Haber, PhD Psychologist & Bullying Expert, shares advice for parents on the best steps to take if you find out that your child is being bullied in order to support your child and make sure the bullying stops
What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied
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How to react when your child is being bullied

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There are a number of steps you can take if your child is being bullied, but the first one is the most important one. And that is don´t overreact yourself. Try to take a deep breath and let them know that it is okay. Sit with them. Get on their level. If you feel that happening, you feel yourself getting emotional when you hear that your child is being bullied, you are going to feel angry or upset. But you have to take control of yourself and the way to do that is to sit next to them and calm down and let them see that you will listen. And then tell them you are really sorry that happened and show empathy yourself. You can even share a story yourself about what happened when you were younger so they can feel connected to you. And then, you want to gather the facts. You want to find out what happened in a calm voice. You want to be relaxed. You want to find out who did it, if this is the first time, if it was done by a few kids, if it has been happening. And let them know that it is okay to share those facts. And once that has happened, then you are going to say I am so glad you shared that. Let´s figure out what we want to do about it. And once you do that, then you can start talking about solutions. Solutions may be things like coming up with a plan. They may want to handle it themselves, depending on the age. But if it is with younger kids, you probably need to call the school and share it with a confidential person. For older kids, they may not want you to call because they are humiliated and embarrassed. But you can say you can try to work it out yourself if it is not severe. And you as the parent have to decide if there are those symptoms that we talked about. If your kid is avoiding school or if it is so distressing that they don´t want to go to school, then you have to call the school because you need a plan. If not, let them try to do it themselves. If you can show them that it is okay to try things even if they cannot figure it out immediately, it helps them start to build skills to try. And if they work it themselves, that is fantastic. But now there are new laws in schools where you may need to let a school know confidentially anyway because every state now is developing bully laws. But kids will not want you to do that if they are afraid of retaliation. Let them know it will be safe. You will tell a confidential person and that will also help the school be on top of a problem that you may not be able to see when your child is home.

Joel Haber, PhD Psychologist & Bullying Expert, shares advice for parents on the best steps to take if you find out that your child is being bullied in order to support your child and make sure the bullying stops

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Expert Bio

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Joel Haber, PhD

Psychologist, Bullying & Parenting Expert, Author

Dr. Joel Haber is a Clinical Psychologist and internationally recognized bully prevention and parenting expert. He was selected as a webinar leader and a speaker for the Obama Administration Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention initiative.  He was also an invited participant to the Second Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in 2011. His recent book, Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting and Bullying for Good set the bullying standard for schools, camps, sports, organizations and families dealing with bully prevention and intervention. He recently published The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive Parenting.  He is a consultant and expert to the American Camp Association, and to LG Electronics as a member of (LGTextEd.com), providing cyberbullying and mobile harassment expertise to parents and families. He is an advisor to Cartoon Network’s anti-bully campaign: Stop Bullying: Speak Up.  He is an expert for No Snap Judgments: The Addams Family Broadway Show- National Campaign to promote acceptance and tolerance amongst our youth. He is also co-founder of Tool Kits for Kids (toolkitsforkids.com), recipient of five national parenting awards for helping parents and kids develop the tools and emotional life skills to overcome worry, build confidence and develop resilience. He has written and published extensively, speaking each year to thousands of parents and educators to help make children’s lives, safer and better. 

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