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How to Help Your Child Deal with Bullies

By Pam Dewey and Fraser Licensed Psychologist Jessica Vaughan-Jensen • bullying, kids and bullies, kids and bullying, children and bullying, online bullying, dealing with bullies, helping your kids with bullies, how to handle bullies, cyberbullying, social media and bullies • January 20, 2022

When you think about a bully, you probably imagine a very specific image: maybe a boy with a flat top and a leather jacket. Or perhaps your childhood bully was the girl next door who tormented you throughout sixth grade. Bullies come in all sizes and shapes. And with technology, a bully can be almost anyone behind a computer screen.

As a parent, you want to protect your child from bullies. While you can’t necessarily stop bullying from happening, you can help prepare your child. Here are 8 ways to help your child deal with bullies.

Help your child identify bullying

Talk with your child about how to identify bullying. Making fun or teasing someone isn’t always bullying. But if another kid repeatedly makes fun of your child or continually pushes them on the playground, that is bullying. A repeated attack is bullying. A child who is bigger or older has more power, so if they attack your child, that’s bullying. The Child Mind Institute also states, “Bullying can take the form of a physical or verbal attack, making threats, spreading rumors or excluding someone from a group on purpose.” When someone has the intention to cause your child harm, that is bullying. Kids may also face cyberbullying, which can include name-calling, threats and even blackmail. A child can be bullied by a person or by a group. Other kids may join in on the bullying to seem cool or to avoid being bullied themselves.

Let your child know you’ll support them

Ask your child to come to you, if they’re being bullied. Tell your child they shouldn’t feel embarrassed, and most people are bullied at some point in their lives. Let them know you’ll work together to figure out what to do. If it’s happening online, it’s particularly important for your child to alert you quickly. Not only is it much harder for your child to escape online harassment, but they may not know the attacker's identity. Your child might be tempted to delete a mean social media post. While that might seem like a good idea, you may need proof of the harassment later.  

Tell your child it’s not their fault

The Child Mind Institute states, “Make it clear that bullying says less about the victims personally than it does about the bully.” In other words, let your child know that they aren’t being bullied because there is something wrong with them. Rather, the bully is acting this way because they are:

  • Trying to fit in with the other kids
  • Seeking attention
  • Hoping to become more popular
  • Being bullied at home
  • Trying to prove they’re tough

Knowing the bully isn’t picking on them because there’s something wrong with them should help ease the hurt.

Come up with some responses

Ignoring a bully doesn’t always work. The idea of “fighting fire with fire” isn’t helpful either. Tell your child not to make fun of the bully because that will further aggravate the situation. Work with your child to come up few things to say. That could be, “Leave me alone,” or “I don’t have to listen to this.” Even saying, “Whatever,” and then walking away might work.   

Teach your child not to react

A bully generally wants a reaction, so teach your child not to give them one. Though what the bully says or does may hurt them, your child should try not to show it. Crying, getting angry or being offended is what the bully wants. According to, “Sometimes kids find it useful to practice ‘cool down’ strategies such as counting to 10, writing down their angry words, taking deep breaths or walking away.” If a bully continues not to get a reaction, they may eventually leave your child alone.

Seek backup from friends also suggests, “Buddy up with a friend on the bus, in the hallways, or at recess — wherever the bully is. Offer to do the same for a friend.” Bullies want to isolate their victims, so having a friend around may discourage the bully. Another idea experts suggest is having kids make a pact with their friends: if either one is bullied, they will stand up for each other. When kids stick together, bullies are more likely to back down.

Let your child speak up

Fraser Licensed Psychologist Jessica Vaughan-Jensen suggests you ask your child what could be done to help them feel safer. Not only might they have some good ideas, but this also gives them space to advocate for themselves. Since bullying usually happens repeatedly, you’ll also want to periodically check in with your child to make sure the bullying has stopped.

Talk to people at your child’s school

Talking to another child’s parents may work in some cases, but you can never be sure about the other child’s home situation, or how the parents will react. If the bullying is severe, take your child to talk to their teacher, guidance counselor or even the principal. Your child’s school may have a bullying policy or a plan to address bullying. Even if the school doesn’t have a bullying policy, you can work with school officials to help your child handle the situation. You may also want to have your child talk with a therapist, if the bullying is taking a toll on their mental health.

No parent wants their child to be bullied, but you can help them through it. Teach your child to identify bullying, ask them to talk to you about it, let them know it’s not their fault, practice how to respond, suggest they buddy up with friends, encourage them to advocate for themselves and talk to school officials about the problem.