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?
Having to deal with a bully is hard for a child - especially at
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
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.
For more information, check out these articles:
Bullying and Your Child
Getting Involved at Your Child's School
Julie Simons, PhD
Date reviewed: May 2007
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