Bullying and Counseling

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5 Steps in 5 Minutes to Stop a Bully

It’s one of the hardest things to handle as a parent, someone not liking your child. You think they are wonderful, bright, and fabulous kids, yet some little punk thinks they are not. What are you to do?

First handle your own emotions. Often parents think about bullying through their own experiences. Know that it is not the same, it is similar, but it is not the same. Also, start with the knowledge that this bully probably has significant issues at home and is also hurting. The bullied often become bullies to those that they bully. So maybe the bully is hurt by his dad, but can’t stand up to him, so he hurts your child.

These five minutes are not all at once, but are spread out. With that adult perspective do the following:

First Minute: Talk to your child about what exactly is going on. Listen and don’t react. Work to understand the situation. Say things like, “Tell me more about…” or “Can you help me understand…?”. This allows the child to feel heard without them feeling like you are taking over.

Second minute: Identify what your child can to do. Can they surround themselves with friends, verbally stand-up to the child, take a self-defense class, or talk to an adult? Children want to feel that they can solve problems, so give them the abilitiesto make significant changes. Maybe even role-play situations with them.

Third Minute: Talk to the adult that is around your child, is it a teacher, bus driver, or principal? Can the adult sit down with the other youth? This is an option that you should talk openly about with your child. Explain when and why other adults may help.

Fourth Minute: Brainstorm activities that can build your child’s confidence. When kids have stronger confidence in their own abilities, they are less likely to put up with another child’s bullying. As well, they will not be a passive bystander when others are bullied. When your child has the ability to discuss bullying right when it starts, it will cut future bullying.  

Fifth Minute: Create an action plan with your child to discuss the situation. Help them feel in charge. Remember that they know the situation best and honor that. They probably know the real risk they do/may face.

This 5-minute approach is the beginning. Remember, most bullies are also hurting kids. With that said, don’t hesitate to involve school authorities or the police if it seems needed. Sometimes kids also need to talk with a counselor or other trained professional to work through their feelings.