Monday, April 4, 2011

The Top 4 Things Parents Can Do for Bullied Kids

1. Listen to them and empathize. Don't minimize the hurt they've been through, but don't make them feel like a victim either. Hear them out, then ask them how they might want you to help. Encourage them to speak to their teacher or counselor, and see if they want you to reach out to them too.

2. Help them see their own strengths and personal assets. Is your child kind, funny, helpful, interesting? Remind them of whatever positives they have -- even write them down so they have a concrete manifestation of their pluses. Are they good at music, sports, math, or something else? Whatever it is, encourage them to spend more time on their areas of talent. Doing so will give them back some of the energy bullying takes away while providing a healthy outlet.

3. Keep the lines of communication open at all times. If they're spending too much time alone, do whatever you can to be there, stay present, and continue giving support. If they're depressed and withdrawn, take them to someone who can help, even if they resist.

4. Help them rehearse what they're going to say and do when they see the people who bully them. Role play and rehearse together so the assertive actions and words won't feel foreign to them when it's time to stand up for themselves.

By the way, did you know that many kids who are picked on because of a physical "flaw" seek cosmetic surgery? It's a growing trend. To find out more, read my latest Examiner article.

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