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  • Writer's pictureValerie

How to Parent the kid who gets Bullied

My child is being bullied, now what?

boy crying

Bullying is a subject that gets a lot of attention, both in the media and within the school walls. However, the resources available for Parents are very limited.

We’ve had a few instances of bullying happen in the last few years. As a parent of the one being bullied, I felt rather helpless. Our school was very helpful in the whole process, but as the parent of the one being bullied, I felt helpless and unprepared to handle the emotional toll bullying took on me and my son.

But I want you to be prepared. So where do we start?

Teach a Clear Understanding of What Bullying is... defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time”.

But I’d say this definition is very broad and hard to describe to young kids. Because to a kid anyone being mean is seen as a bully and that’s not the case.

Rude Kids: Those that say or do something unintentionally hurtful and do that once or infrequently.

Mean Kids: Those that say or do something intentionally hurtful and do it once or infrequently.

Bullies: Those that say or do something intentionally hurtful and keep doing it even when you have told them to stop and show that you’re upset.

These definitions have helped my son and I gain a greater understanding that not EVERYONE is a bully. Unfortunately, there are rude kids and mean kids everywhere. Truthfully learning how to process and cope with rude and mean kids will be a great asset, because rude and mean kids can (not always) grow into rude and mean adults.

Having a clear definition that you and your kids can refer to is the first step in recognizing bullying.

Signs of Bullying

Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:

  • Unexplainable injuries

  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry.

  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness.

  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.

  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.

  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school

  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations.

  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem.

  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.

Listen, Support, and Seek Clarity.

It's not always easy as a parent to both understand and believe what our kids say from time to time. But when your child comes to you communicating someone is repeatedly unkind or bullying them there is an internal battle between going full-on momma bear or brushing it off as just another part of their day. These are extremes but taking the time to listen can be a challenge in our busy lives. In these situations, your child needs to feel heard and safe with you, but you also need to remain calm seek understanding, and help your child grow in healthily resolving conflict full-on.

Because teaching kids conflict management is so important.

Mean kids and bullies aren't only in schools, but in your kid's future workplace too. So giving them the tools to problems solve and advocate is essential.

Know the reporting procedures.

father and daughter working on a computer

Most school districts have a bullying report system. If you can’t find the forms on the school or district website reach out to the Assistant Principle. Usually, this staff member is the one in charge of handling bullying reports and mediation between kids.

Parents are rarely involved in this process. But in our family, we established the Rule of Three to anything our kids came home and said, I was bullied. Any time my son came home and said he was bullied; we ran through the definitions we talked about above and talked through what happened and when.

If the events with one or more students went up to four instances, then we entered all four of the events in the Bully report.

Once my son moved over to middle school, I had to put the ball in his court. I showed him where to find the report form and how to fill it out. I knew teachers were limited in their ability to step in, but giving my son a voice through the reporting system helped him feel safe within school walls.

Teach your kids to pray for the bully.

Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

father and two kids praying

I’m sad to say this came as a last-ditch effort instead of as a first response. But it was a light bulb moment for my son.

We started to pray for the kids that were affecting his day and pray for their home life.

When I first prayed this my son asked why I prayed that.

I answered him because he hurt people, hurt people. We’re not born bullies, but we’re shown and taught how to treat people by the home we’re raised in.

A couple of weeks later we had an opportunity to see the proof of this in action.

One of the kids who were bullying him lived in our neighborhood. We as a family didn’t know each other, but we had a few opportunities to see my son’s bully interacting with his older brothers. The way the bully was treating my son, was precisely the way this bully was being bullied by his older brothers.

The next night as we prayed for this bully my son recognized how the bully had been treated and he verbally prayed rather than just listening to me.

The bullying didn’t end immediately, but my son’s heart did change and that made all the difference.


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