Tips for Parents 

What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied

Here are some things you can do to support your child if he or she is being bullied:

  • Never tell your child to ignore the bullying.
  • Do not encourage physical retaliation.
  • Don’t blame your child for the bullying. Don’t assume your child did something to provoke the bullying.
  • Allow your child to talk about his or her bullying experiences. Tell him or her that bullying is wrong, that it is not his or her fault, and that you are glad he or she had the courage to tell you about it.
  • If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don’t criticize him or her. It is often very difficult for children to know how best to respond.
  • Check your emotions. A parent’s protective instincts stir strong emotions. Although it is difficult, step back and consider the next steps very carefully.
  • Work closely with school personnel to help solve the problem.
  • Teach your child safety strategies, such as how to seek help from an adult.
  • If you or your child need additional help, seek help from a school counselor and/or mental health professional.

What to Do If Your Child Bullies Others

If your child bullies other children at school, it will need to be stopped. Here are some things you can do at home to address the issue with your child:

  • Make it clear to your child that you take bullying seriously and that is it not okay.
  • Make rules within your family for your child’s behavior. Praise your child for following the rules and use nonphysical and logical consequences when rules are broken, such as losing rights to use the phone to call friends, using email to talk with friends, or other activities your child enjoys.
  • Spend lots of time with your child and keep close track of his or her activities. Find out who your child’s friends are and how and where they spend their free time.
  • Build on your child’s talents by encouraging him or her to get involved in positive activities such as clubs, music lessons, or nonviolent sports.
  • Share your concerns with your child’s teacher, counselor, and/or principal. Work together to  send a clear message to your child that his or her bullying must stop.
  • If you and your child need more help, talk with a school counselor and/or mental health professional.

What to Do If Your Child Witnesses Bullying

Many children are “bystanders” in cases of bullying. If your child witnesses bullying, you are encouraged to do the following:

  • Teach your child how to get help without getting hurt.
  • Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying. This only encourages a child who bullies.
  • Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
  • Help your child support others who tend to be bullied.
  • Teach your child to include these children in activities.

Work with your child to practice specific ways he or she can help stop bullying. For example, role-play with him or her what he or she could say or do to help someone who is bullied.

This list has been adapted from a publication originally created for “Take a Stand. Lend a Hand. Stop Bullying Now!” a campaign of the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.