How to teach your kids about bullying

By Heather Burdo

The new school year is approaching fast, and some parents have concerns about bullying. Nobody wants their child to be bullied but it seems to be getting worse every school year. Unfortunately, bullying isn’t just in high school for wearing the wrong brand of clothing or not fitting in. Bullying is prevalent in school-aged children as well.

What can we do as parents? All we can do is teach children right from wrong and be aware of warning signs.

First, why do kids bully?

It’s important to dive into figuring out why some kids bully. There is no excuse, but sometimes certain situations lead to bullying. Some kids will pick on others because they need a victim - someone who is physically or emotionally weaker than themselves. Usually, kids will do as they are taught. For example, if a child is being “bullied” by his parents at home and they constantly yell or physically abuse the child, chances are they will do the same to others.

Sit down and have a discussion

Get down to your child’s level and make sure they are listening. This is an important conversation. Look them in the eye and tell them that no matter what, you will always be there for them. Of course, you’re going to break this down into language they can understand, but basically, tell your child what to do if they encounter a bully. For example, tell them that they need to find a teacher, principal, or another adult right away.

Additionally, they will need to let you know when they get home. Also, explain to your child why some kids are bullies. Tell them that it has nothing to do with them and it’s all about the bully and how they are raised or how they see themselves. Again, you will have to break this down for school-aged children but it’s vital to let your child know if he ever gets bullied, it’s not anything to do with him.

Teach your child to be kind and respectful

One of the most important things you can teach your child is how wrong it is to judge someone based on their appearance, gender, special needs, religion, race, or economic status. Bring your child to the park and out in the environment to see how well he interacts with other kids who may fit into one of the categories above so you will get an idea how he will be in school.

Teach your child that it’s not okay to follow along if someone else is bullying, even if it’s one of their friends as the bully. It’s important to instill in children that if someone is a bully, that’s not the type of friend you want.

Always consider your child could be the bully

We know - you don’t want to imagine your child bullying others, but it could happen. You could treat your child well, and he could still pick up bad behavior, even from older kids at school. Always reinforce positive behavior so they know right from wrong, and that bad behavior never gets rewarded.

If your child gets angry quickly, is friends with other kids who are a bad influence, has difficulty understanding how his actions affect others or gets in trouble a lot at school, it’s important to give him techniques to learn. Have your child practice deep breathing and counting to ten. It’s critical to have him control his negative feelings to reduce his chance of bullying others, along with protecting the way he feels about himself.

Know the signs of bullying

As parents, we need to understand the signs of bullying before it happens. Awareness is essential to prevent children from enduring this. Some signs are:

Possible signs of your child being bullied:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Stomach aches, feeling sick, or even faking illness
  • Destroying belongings
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Skipping meals
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Low self-esteem
  • Losing interest in school

Possible signs of your child bullying others:

  • Get into verbal or physical fights
  • Seem aggressive
  • Frequent trips to the principal’s office
  • Have friends who are bullies
  • Concerned about fitting in
  • New belongings or extra money

Bullying is becoming an epidemic. The more awareness we bring to the subject, the more parents can know what to look for. Whether your child is being bullied or is the bully, stay engaged in your child’s life, let them know you are there for them, and keep reinforcing good behavior and setting consequences for the bad. Is bullying prevalent in your local school? How do you teach your kids? We would love to hear.


Heather is a freelance writer from New York. When she isn't writing about parenting, she is tending to her own two handsome boys. She enjoys all things related to motivation and mindset. All work aside, she enjoys activities outdoors and being with her family. 

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