One in five children report being bullied in school – and it takes a toll. Grades drop, absenteeism rises and emotions take a dive.
“Kids internalize a lot of what they believe about themselves from what they hear and how they are treated by others,” said Jennifer Peter, PsyD, CHI Health licensed clinical psychologist. “Depression and anxiety are prevalent in kids who are bullied.”
What can parents do? A lot. Research shows that responding quickly and consistently can help stop bullying behavior.
Remember that children take their cues from you. “Model confidence and positive ways to problem solve,” Peter said. “Model kindness toward others. Always be aware of how you treat and what you say about others.”
Kids need to know their self-worth is not determined by another child’s actions. “Work every day to strengthen your child’s value of himself or herself,” Peter said.
Teasing vs. bullying? Where's the line?
Teasing isn’t intended to hurt; bullying is. If you ask someone to stop teasing you, and they don’t, the line is being crossed into bullying.
- Pay attention and keep lines of communication open.
- Gather info on who’s involved and how your child responded.
- Save pertinent screenshots, emails and texts.
- Contact school authorities and police, if necessary.
- Report cyberbullying to social media sites/smartphone providers.
- Stick to facts; avoid placing blame.
- Ignore bullying behavior.
- Jump in too fast and try to “fix it.”
- Tell kids they’re overreacting or being oversensitive.
- Blame kids for being bullied.
- Tell kids to retaliate or respond with aggression.