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What to do when your child is being bullied

Even though your child doesn’t come home with bumps and bruises, that doesn’t mean he’s not a victim of a bully. Bullies often torment emotionally, rather than physically, targeting quiet or shy kids, kids who have few friends or kids who are different from their peers.

Sad Bullied Boy

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, almost half of all children are bullied at some point during their school years and at least ten percent are bullied on a regular basis. No wonder why there are children eating lunch by themselves in the school bathroom.

“Parents need to know what is going on with their child’s lives by talking to them,” says Julie Stucke, PhD, child psychologist at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. “If it is found that the child is being bullied, parents need to know about it.”

One may speculate why kids bully other kids. Is it to get attention? To raise their self-esteem? To look cool in front of their friends?

“Bullies are just trying to get a response,” says Julie Stucke, PhD, child psychologist at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. “When a bully gets the desired response they will continue their actions. But, if the response is not the anticipated one, then usually the bully will back down.”

Dr. Stucke offers three suggestions to help avoid bullies or being bullied:

  • Urge your children not to go places alone. A bully is less likely to pick on someone who is in a crowd.
  • Bullies tend to pick on children who are less assertive. Therefore, children should be assertive and tell the bully to stop and that their actions are not liked. Sometimes bullies are surprised and may back off.
  • Parents can role-play with their children, practicing possible responses should a bully situation arise. This gives the child confidence to handle such scenarios.

“Parents should not encourage their children to retaliate,” says Dr. Stucke. “If your child chooses to fight back, they need to know the consequences that might follow their actions.”

Dr. Stucke also offers some advice for children in situations involving a bully:

  • Walk away and ignore the bully.
  • Do not give the bully the reaction they want. For instance, crying, yelling or fighting back.
  • Tell the bully to stop what they are doing.
  • Go to the school guidance counselor, principal or teacher. They may be able to keep an eye on the bully after they know what has been happening.

“Children need to work out their problems first on their own,” says Dr. Stucke. “Parents can get involved when other options do not work.”

Provided by The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton

About The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton

The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton is the region’s pediatric referral center for 20 Ohio counties and eastern Indiana. At Dayton Children’s, there is a full-time dedication to caring for infants, children and teens. Specially trained and experienced pediatric specialists in over 35 specialty areas work as a team to make sure the medical and psychosocial needs of children and their families are met. We also have a number of community-based services as well.

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