Parenting in the News: Should you confront your child’s bully?

The goal, rather, should be to empower our kids to come up with ways they can deal with the bullying behavior. “Listen in a non-judgmental way about your child and about the teaser,” says bullying prevention expert Peggy Moss in the article My Child is Being Bullied—What Should I Do? “Let your child do the talking. Don’t try to solve the problem. And try to find out more about the kid who’s doing the teasing. Don’t say, ‘Oh my God, what a rotten kid,’ because you’re just getting a part of the story,” advises Moss. “Your child doesn’t need you to go ballistic or take on the problem as your own. Your child needs to know that he’s being heard and that his feelings matter.” Then, depending upon what’s happened, you can take your next step. “For a parent to be explosive about the situation will cause a child to recoil,” says Moss. “If I march to school and confront the bully on the playground, my child is not going to feel safe telling me anything about this again. I’m taking on his battle for him.”

Work with your child to help him or her come up with good responses to the teasing.  You might ask, “What do you think you can say next time? What do you think might work?” Help your child see what the outcome of their words and actions might be and that this may be a problem they can solve on their own terms. In her blog post “Would You Confront Your Child’s Bully?” Rebecca Wolfenden advises parents to let their kids know that they should tell an adult when they have been bullied. “Of course, if your child is telling a teacher or other adult and nothing is happening, if the bullying continues or worsens, or if it escalates to the point of physical threats or violence, you do need to get involved by talking to the appropriate authorities, and we encourage you to let your child know that you will be doing so. If you try to address it with the teacher or another adult in charge and nothing happens, we recommend “going up the ladder” so to speak; talk with the principal, the director of transportation (if happening on the school bus), the superintendent, the school board, and so on.”


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