It’s easy to feel helpless when you find out that your child is being bullied at school. You probably remember a bully or two yourself, and the way no one else seemed to be there to help you out of that situation. But you can do better than that, and you can help your child.
- Listen to your child. This is the most important thing. To be bullied is usually extremely isolating. The most immediate way to show your child that you are on their side is to listen closely and to show that you believe them and that you don’t blame them. If you don’t, the first lesson they will learn is not to come to you again. If you do, they will face that bully again knowing they have an ally at home.
- Find an ally at school. Remember that it is the school’s legal responsibility to stop bullying. Make sure they take it seriously. Ideally, you should meet immediately with both an administrator and a teacher. But if your child says that the teacher is part of the problem, then perhaps leave them out of that first meeting. Do not let the school minimize what is going on, and do expect them to tell you what they’re going to do about it.
Also, arrange a safe space for your child. Guidance counselors are ideal for this, if they are good at their jobs. Arrange a standing situation where your child can retreat to their office when they are feeling unsafe, at their own volition.
- Get support. Especially if a teacher is part of the problem, you may face pushback from the school, or from other parents of students. After all, you’re the one standing up and making it a problem for everyone. So be sure to talk about what’s happening and what you are doing with a friend, a partner, any Team You you can find.
- Find an outlet for your child. Something they’re good at and love, and where the bully is not a participant. If they love to swim, see that they get to. Art classes, sports, video game club. Choose something they’re skilled or talented at, and reinforce it aloud to them. Build the self-esteem that their bully has been busy eroding. Put them in an environment where they don’t need to feel weird or unusual for their passions.
But the most important thing, perhaps, is not to let the school off the hook. Bullies are a toxic influence in a school, and only the school has the authority to truly do anything.