CHOC offers the following tips to help you start a conversation with your child about bullying, as well as guidelines to help you and your child combat bullying.
Build self-esteem and confidence
Provide your child with enough opportunities to develop supportive friendships. Facilitate playdates for younger children and help adolescents connect with same-age peers both inside and outside of school. Monitor relationships for positive social behaviors, such as balanced give and take.
Be aware of your child’s experiences at school
Communicate with your child about what happens at school and ensure that they tell you about both positive and negative things that happen daily. Frequent communication ensures that children are comfortable sharing when they are having social challenges. Monitor your child’s online activity closely and restrict access to applications and websites if necessary.
Help your child recognize the signs of bullying
Have conversations about bullying. Ask questions like, What does bullying mean? Why do people bully? Who is a trusted adult that you could talk to if you witness or experience bullying? Educate your child about appropriate behaviors, both online and offline.
When your child reports bullying to you, convey unconditional support
Let them know that they don’t deserve to be bullied and that you are there to help. Tell your child you will work together to take the steps to stop bullying.
Assist your child in defining the problem and the desired outcome, such as stopping bullying at school. Help your child make a list of possible solutions to the problem and select one to try.
Create an action plan with your child
Help your child come up with some good ways of responding and moving forward if they encounter bullying. Identify safe ways to act in dangerous situations. Suggest your child walk with peers or other adults if they feel intimidated. Encourage your child to contact you via phone if needed. Identify other adults your child can safely contact if necessary.
Involve the school and seek professional help if needed
Check on anti-bullying policies and programs that the school may have. Write down objective information about bullying incidents. Talk to educators and administrators to resolve the situation. If your child is demonstrating high levels of distress and is having difficulty coping with being bullied, seek mental health services. If you feel like your child is a danger to themselves (e.g. makes comments about wanting to hurt or kill themselves) contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to obtain crisis counseling and local referrals. Take your child to the nearest emergency department if they are in immediate danger of harming themselves.
Roleplay with your child and think about how to react and how to report the problem to school personnel if bullying is happening at school. For cyberbullying, encourage your child to tell you if anything that happens online makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
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If your child expresses thoughts of wanting to harm themselves or others, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest Emergency Department.
MHSA Suicide Prevention Line:
(877) 7CRISIS or (877) 727-4747
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis Text Line:
Text “HOME” to 741741
Find a mental health provider
Check your insurance website or the back of your insurance card.
Explore Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” tool.
Call CalOptima Behavioral Health (Orange County, CA).
Pacer Center’s Kids Against Bullying
Pacer Center’s Teens Against Bullying
Stomp Out Bullying
American Psychological Association
Cyberbullying Research Center
National Bullying Prevention Center