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by    Anthony Kane, MD
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If Your Child is Being Bullied

- 20 Top Tips for Parents

by Derek and Gail Randel M.D.

Keith is now in the fourth grade and he dislikes school. For a fourth grader, this does not sound right. The reason Keith dislikes school though does not have anything to do with academics. Keith is being bullied before school, at school, and on the school bus. Who can blame him for not wanting to go into that environment?

The basic definition of bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person. Bullying involves crossing into one's space without permission.

Isn't bullying just something that happens to all children and we're just making a fuss over this? The children will get over it, right? Shouldn't we tell Keith to grow up and handle it? Wrong. Bullying happens to far too many children and adults shouldn't be ignoring it.

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What Can a Parent Do?

If Keith is being bullied and he is not reporting it to his parents then there are some very important questions to address.

  • Why wouldn't he tell his parents?
  • What message have Keith's parents sent to him about bullies?
  • Does Keith's parents have a history of dismissing what he says?
  • Possibly Keith's parents have had a habit of getting too involved in solving his problems.

Tips for Parents:

    1- Encourage your child to report any bullying incidents to you.
    2- Validate your child's feelings. It is normal for your child to feel hurt, sad, and angry.
    3- Ask your child how he/she has tried to stop the bullying. Asking questions is a wonderful way to have your child do the thinking.
    4- Ask how is he/she going to solve this. We want the child to do the thinking before we jump in. See how many options he can come up with.
    5- Coach your child in alternatives. Ideally the best solution is having your child solve this without anyone interfering. Most of the time unfortunately, this isn't possible. Share these strategies: avoidance is often an excellent strategy, playing in a different place, play a different game, stay near a supervisor, look for new friends, join social activities outside of school.

    6- Talk with your child's teacher. Make sure they are aware of what is going on.
    7- Encourage your child to seek help from other school personnel.
    8- Volunteer to help supervise activities at school.
    9- Do not ignore your child's reports. Ignoring them sends the wrong message.
    10- Do not confront the bully or the bullies' family.
    11- Teach your child how to defend him or herself.
    12- Teach self-respect.
    13- Give numerous positive comments to your child.
    14- Avoid labeling or name-calling.
    15- Let your child know it is okay to express their anger. There are positive and negative ways to express anger, we want to teach and model the positive ways.

    16- Let your children stand up to you now and then. It makes it more likely they will stand up to a bully.
    17- Stress the importance of body language.
    18- Teach your child to use 'I' statements.
    19- Teach positive self-talk.
    20- Teach how to use humor, 'out crazy' them. For example, if the bully says to Keith, "Hey, boy you're ugly." Keith can respond in a couple different ways:
      "Thanks for sharing"
      "Yes, I know, I always have been"
      "Yes, today's lunch was disgusting" then walk away.

There is many other aspects of bullying to look at: Why your child is the victim, why people bully, what you child can do if he/she is bullied, signs your child is being bullied, what the schools should be doing, handling the school bus issues. All of these are addressed in The Shameful Epidemic, How to protect your child from bullies and school violence. Visit to learn what is possible. There are solutions.


Derek and Gail Randel M.D. are parent coaches who have customized programs for corporations, schools, and parent groups. They can be reached at Parent Smart from the Heart, 1-866-89-SMART,, or

Anthony Kane, MD

ADD ADHD Advances

"If Oppositional Defiant Disorder is an Issue in Your Home,

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