Anti-Bullying Tips

Read the tips below to better understand bullying's impact on your child, and  to learn how you can help your child navigate complex social waters. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of peer relationships.

As kids move into the tween and teen years, there is an increasingly strong relationship between self-esteem and how students are viewed by peers.

Most kids are fully aware of their social status, along with the risks of isolation.

During this period, most youth have become painfully aware of social acceptability and popularity; and there is a strong tendency to conform and adhere to peer-based social norms.

Any kid can be a target for bullying.

Anything that makes a child unique or different can lead them to be a target of social isolation and/or bullying.

Many kids have experienced bullying.

Nearly 30 percent of today’s youth report being directly affected by bullying (Milsom and Gall, 2006).

Kids won’t tell you unless you ask.

A 2005 study of bullying indicated that about 24 percent of young people who were bullied told a parent; and only 14 percent told a teacher; 41 percent told a friend, and 28 percent told no one. When asked why they don’t tell adults, number one response was, “They won’t do anything anyway.”

Look for warning signs.

Since kids don’t always tell us, adults need to look for warning signs that peer issues are emerging, including:

  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Sudden refusal or reluctance to go to school
  • Avoidance of activities that were previously enjoyable (including time spent on cell phone or electronic sites)
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Physical complaints (i.e. headaches/stomachaches)

Be available and ask questions.

It’s important to establish a solid relationship with your child by listening to them talk about the things that are important to them, even if they seem trivial to you. This will help build the foundation for them to be willing to answer questions and speak more openly about problems they’re having.

You should also ask them direct questions about their friends and social situations. Here are a few examples (from least direct to most direct): 

  • Who do you hang out with?
  • Who do you sit with at lunch/on the bus?
  • Do you have a best friend?
  • Are there kids who you really don’t like?
  • Are there kids who tease you?
  • Are there kids who leave you out of things on purpose?
  • Are there kids at school who pick on you or bully you?

Know when to intervene.

Kids will often tell you not to intervene. However, if you are not able to effectively coach your child out of the situation, you may need assistance from an adult. Consider a teacher, but also a school counselor, coach, youth leader or recess monitor. Can the adult help your child to find a peer group that will be supportive? Are there opportunities for small group social skills? Are there anti-bullying policies or lessons in place at school?

Build up your child’s resilience.

The most powerful antidotes to bullying are:

  • Having at least one good/reliable friend
  • Having the social skills to join a group of peers and maintain friendships
  • Having a strong sense of self (who I am, what I believe in, how I act)

Learn More

Read more about anti-bulllying strategies and find helpful resources in our Salubrity blog post.