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Helping your child deal with bullies

Helping your child deal with bullies


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Parents may want to make their children bully-proof. While that's probably not entirely possible, there are effective ways parents can help kids deal with bullies.

If you have a good line of communication with your child, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake Vice President Allison Barclay says that's a step in the right direction.

"Every day, you should talk with your child about how school is, how are things going with their friends and really listening so that you can pick up on the warning signs if they are being bullied," she said. But if they tell you they're being bullied, parents need to remember to keep their cool. That may be easier said than done.

"Show that you're concerned, but don't overreact because sometimes that will cause a child to want to shut down," Barclay said.

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In many cases, kids may be afraid to tell a teacher, a counselor or even their parents if they're facing trouble from other kids at school. But, she says they need to know that telling an adult about being bullied is not tattling, and it's important the parents label the bad treatment as bullying.

"It's important to help the child identify what that is, that it is bullying and it's not OK," Barclay explained.

But there are ways a child can take control of the situation.

Recommendations
  • Foster good communication
  • Don't overreact
  • Take control of the situation
  • Document physical incidents

For instance, many bullies may use insults to make their victims feel bad. Barclay says boosting the child's self esteem is a good way to overcome the insults.

If the bully tells a child they're stupid, parents need to show them examples of how smart they are, then remind the child how the bully doesn't know what he's talking about. If the abuse is physical, adults have to be told. Barclay says parents need to log each incident.

"If a parent does need to take a step further and go in to see the principal or the counselor, there are specific documented incidents that they can refer to so that they can follow up with the child who is acting as the bully," Barclay said.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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