How to help your child navigate, handle bullying


September 3, 2019


Bullying can cause great psychological impact. Kids who are bullied tend to have lower self-esteem and are more likely to struggle with depression. 

How do you know if your child is being bullied? Some of the warning signs include:

  • Comes home with torn, damaged or missing pieces of clothing, books or other belongings or “loses” things without being able to give a proper explanation of what has happened
  • Displays unexplained cuts, bruises and scratches
  • Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs)
  • Has lost interest in schoolwork or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
  • Appears sad, moody (mood swings with sudden outbursts of irritation or anger), teary or depressed when he or she comes home
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
  • Experiences a loss of appetite
  • Seems anxious and/or suffers from low self-esteem
  • Steals or asks for extra money from members of the family (to soften up the bullies).

If you notice any of these signs in your child, it’s time to have a conversation. Ask direct questions such as:

  • “Are there any kids at school who are picking on you or bullying you?”
  • “Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?” 
  • “Are there any kids at school who you don’t like? Why not?”
  • “Do they leave you out of things?”

Let them know they can tell you or any trusted adult whenever they are being bullied. Reassure your child you are there to talk about what’s happening.

Remember bullying is difficult for kids to navigate and know how to handle. They often feel they should handle it on their own and don’t want to “tattle” on the kids in their school. Remind them telling is not tattling and help them with strategies for dealing with a bully (see below).

Consider talking with the staff at your child’s school too. First meet with your child’s teacher. He or she will probably be in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers at school. 

Share your concerns and ask about how your child relates to other classmates. Allow the school to set up an appointment with the parents of the bully to curtail the bullying if needed. If you see or suspect your child is being bullied, take the issue seriously. Talk to your kids and be aware of the warning signs.

Online bullying

Also be aware bullying can take place in a school, church or neighborhood setting and also online. Many bullies and online predators are using the anonymity of the internet to attack their victims.

For more information on identifying and stopping bullying visit www.stopbullying.gov or contact Pathways Professional Counseling to set up an appointment with a licensed professional counselor to talk about strategies to stop the bullying.

Helpful tips for children when dealing with a bully

  • Do not fight back.
  • Don’t try to bully those who bully you.
  • Try not to show anger or fear. Students who bully like to see they can upset you. Calmly tell the student to stop or say nothing and then walk away. Use humor if that comes easily for you to do.
  • Try to avoid situations where bullying might happen. For example, avoid areas of the school where there are not many students or teachers around. Make sure you aren’t alone in the bathroom or locker room. Sit near the front of the bus. Don’t bring expensive things or a lot of money to school. Sit with a group of friends at lunch. Take a different route through the hallways or walk with friends or a teacher to your classes. 

EDITOR’S NOTE — Faith & Family is a monthly look at important spiritual, cultural and relational issues facing today’s families. For more articles on contemporary topics like these go to PathwaysProfessional.org/blog.

  • David Garrard Magic