What to Do About a Bully: 5 Tips for Parents | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog



What to Do About A Bully: 5 Tips for Parents

How to Help Your Kids Handle Bullying


October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the goal is to create a world where all youth can be safe from bullying. It’s a big challenge, but change starts within your own home.


If your child has ever been bullied, you know how hard it can be to respond. As adults, we’re often unsure of what to do or how to help, but these 5 tips can provide a helpful framework for responding to bullying.


1. Know the warning signs

Kids are often hesitant to speak up about being bullied, which is why adults need to be aware of the most common warning signs of bullying. These signs may include the following:

  • Acting differently, including increased anxiety, moodiness, not eating, trouble sleeping, or a disinterest in things they usually enjoy doing
  • A sudden avoidance of certain situations or places, like the bus, playground, or even school in general
  • An increase in headaches, stomachaches, and other illnesses
  • Declining grades or increased disinterest in school
  • Lost items, destroyed clothing, or other signs of physical bullying


2. Ask questions

Kids don’t always want to admit something is wrong, but asking them directly usually isn’t the best solution either. Try sharing your own experiences, pointing out bullying on TV and in real-life situations, and build on the conversation from there.


3. When your child speaks, listen

A child might fear judgment or anger when they do open up about a bully, so always listen without judgment. Let them do the talking, and refrain from responding with anger or indignation (no matter how cruel the bully is being). You want to demonstrate that solving a problem doesn’t require anger, yelling, or responding violence.


4. Brainstorm ideas together

Before storming the playground or barging into the principal’s office, talk to your kids about how they could respond to a bully.


If they suggest a response like, “shut up, you jerk!” don’t shut the idea down immediately. Instead, ask what they think the bully will do in response. Helping a child work through possible solutions, while also thinking about the consequences, is a great skill that can be used throughout their entire life.


5. When to approach a teacher or principal

Educators want kids to feel safe at school. Unfortunately, the bulk of bullying happens outside of the classroom where adults can’t see or hear what’s happening. If you suspect bullying at school, the first step is to reach out to a teacher to make them aware of the situation. If you want to speak to the parents of the bully, it’s best to do so when a teacher, principal, or school counselor can be involved.


These 5 tips are a great framework to use when dealing with bullies, but every situation will be a little different. Use your best judgment when deciding how to respond, especially if there’s a concern for physical safety. If you’d like even more tips and insights about bullying, visit https://www.stopbullying.gov/.