What do you do when your child comes home and reports being picked on in school? Whether the child expresses frustration with a peer who calls him names, systematically leaves him out, or even intimidates him to trade parts of his lunch, it is important to educate your child how to advocate for themselves and set up appropriate boundaries within their social environment.
- Educate your child on what is considered “bullying” so they have a frame of reference what is and is not tolerated behavior. In addition to using the classic definition of bullying which entails “aggressive behavior in which an individual intentionally or repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort,” according to Psychology Today, it is important to discuss real-life examples of what may be considered bullying. For example, maybe a peer is not pushing or hitting the child but rather is incessantly asking for the good treats in your child’s lunch. The consistent intimidation might be enough for your child to relinquish their brownie or favorite chips to get this individual off their back. Teach your child that if handing over their treat doesn’t feel right or is not something they want to do, they should not. The child can then recognize their boundaries and from here, implement self-advocacy skills to assert their thoughts and needs.
- Communicate. Teaching your child to recognize their boundaries is the first part in handling a bully. Once the child recognizes that what they are confronted with is not “tolerated behavior,” the child can then implement an “I feel” statement to communicate their needs.
-In the future:
This statement allows the child to feel more objective in the communication process as they insert what it is they are thinking, feeling and needing out of the situation. This is an assertive and non-aggressive. The child in this stage communicates their feelings and puts a halt on the negative behavior or interaction. Once the child states their need, if the bully does not stop, teach your child to remove themselves from the triggering situation, engage with identified “positive peers” to avoid the bully, and access an adult if the negative behaviors continue.