Answers to Questions About Bullying

I try to get through to her that those kids have nothing better to do than to pick on someone, and that her value comes from God and he made everyone unique and focus on her good qualities of caring and helping others. But that doesn't help at school.

She tells these kids to leave her alone and she tells a teacher, but there is little else she can do. They never hurt her physically, but she really doesn't have any friends and her self-esteem is very low. How can I help her and kids like her to deal effectively with "bullies" like this? What strategies work? Thanks! — Karen

ANSWER: First of all, this is an issue that the principal needs to address, because no kid in a special needs class should be taunted. It means that the school, or students within the school, are willing to go after whom they perceive to be its most vulnerable members. Administrators responsibility is to do everything they can to ensure they take a very strong stand against that kind of unethical behavior. Second, what to tell your kid. Tell her, "I'm so sorry this is happening to you, thank you for telling me, and together let's work on making it better."

Now, you're not going to be able to stop the bullies overnight (and of course, you know that) but the goal here is that your daughter feels better about herself for the way she is handling this very difficult, painful situation. When she feels mastery of something like this, she is developing social competency. I would also encourage her to take a stand because if they are doing it to her, they will also do it to even younger kids. So she's not just fighting for herself to be treated with dignity but for other kids as well.

Hi-I just last night had a crying 9-year-old because she took a nest into school to show the kids and a boy made fun of her and it shook her up so much. She kept it bottled up inside all day and didn't tell me about it until bedtime. Then she was bawling. I don't know what to do. Should I go to the teacher and have the boy confronted with the bullying?

I comforted my daughter, but I don't think that was enough. She told me she didn't say anything back to the boy and I asked her why. She felt like whatever she said back, he would just make fun of that too. I hate that she felt helpless and want to give her the tools to defend herself verbally against this abuse. Without escalating or embarrassing her, what can I do? Thanks for any advice. — Sara

ANSWER: I'm so sorry that your daughter was teased for trying to bring something like that to school. Here's what I would do. First, tell your daughter you are sorry that happened to her, and thank her for having the courage to tell you. Together I would come up with a plan that ideally would be:

1. She writes down what happened, how she felt about it, and what she wants to happen (i.e., that the boy apologize to her and not tease her again).

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