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Behavioral and Emotional Wellness

How Can I Help My Child Deal With a Bully?

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My son hates going to school because there's a boy who teases and picks on him every day. What can I do to help him?
- Jesse

Having to deal with a bully is hard for kids — especially at school.

Listen to your son's worries and convey that they're perfectly understandable and that it's OK for him to feel that way. Offer assurance without making him feel like you're trying to talk him out of feeling that way or dismissing his feelings.

As he tells you how he feels, be sure to repeat back his thoughts and feelings using phrases like, "I know you're feeling worried." When he feels understood by you, he'll be more receptive to your help and any advice on coping that you offer.

Let him know that everyone worries, even adults, at one time or another. But also make sure he knows that there are ways he can feel better and less fearful. Go over some strategies that he can use if someone teases him. Ignoring the bully and simply walking away or using humor to combat aggressiveness might get the bully to stop. Bullies often give up when they don't get a response from their target.

Try to get your son to talk about what has been going on at school — just listening can be helpful.

Although kids can resolve many incidents of bullying on their own, do keep an eye on the situation. If it persists, get involved by talking to your child's teacher or school counselor.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: September 2010

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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