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Talking to Your Child About a Difficult Topic

Bullying is a sensitive topic that many moms and dads have to navigate with their children. As a parent, you may be uncertain about how to approach it. You may ask: What is considered bullying? How can you recognize it? How do you offer your children support without overstepping? How do you keep communication open with your child?

What is Bullying?

Bullying is an act of aggression and can come in forms of physical, verbal or social harassment. Bullying can also occur in the form of cyberbullying, which is online harassment and has become more common as children increase Internet use.

Spotting the Warning Signs

A child who is bullied may be resistant to tell an adult for fear of repercussions from his or her harasser. So, you need to keep lines of communication open to spot common warning signs.

You can improve communication with your children by asking questions about their day, showing you understand their concerns and encouraging them to continue doing their favorite hobbies or activities. If your child is resistant to opening up, that may be a sign of bullying.

Other warning signs include:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed items
  • School avoidance
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Lack of sleep
  • Declining grades
  • Low self-esteem
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Self-destructive behaviors

Empowering Your Children

Being bullied can result in severe self-esteem issues. It’s important to help your child overcome these issues and remind them that it will get better in time. Encourage your child to share their concerns, and truly listen during these conversations. Help them understand what bullying is, how to respond and how to stand up for himself or someone else. Take opportunities to boost self-confidence.

If your child is afraid to stand up against bullying, step in. Record details of the events and find out the school’s policy on bullying. Then, reach out to the guidance counselor, teacher or principal and work together to determine the best way to resolve the situation. Try not to place blame; instead, raise your concerns and share your documented evidence of the incidents.

Children look up to their parents for guidance, so, most importantly, lead by example. Demonstrate kindness, compassion and respect. Remain a positive influence, encourage open communication, and reinforce self-esteem and individuality.