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Talking with your kids about bullying


Preventing bullying at home

For part 1 of this series on bullying, click here. Now we pick up at point two about dealing with bulling issues:

  1. Developing open and ongoing communication with your child– communication is crucial for a good relationship with your child. What I am referring to here is telling your child how they can come to you if something inappropriate pops up on their phone or laptop while they are using it. Your child needs to know it is safe for them to tell you when these things happen.

Remember that bullying is a process of shaming, and so your child will likely be embarrassed when it happens. When they see that or accidentally see inappropriate material online, they need to know that they can come to you and be safe.

  1.  Sibling safety, a bullying-free zone –Set a standard in your home that teasing and insulting one another will not be tolerated. Kids can be remarkably resilient, but when they are teased both at home and school it becomes too much for them to handle. Children desperately need to know that their parents and siblings love them deeply and are on their team. Insults and name-calling have no place in a family.

The concept of the family as a team also guides your children for how to care for one another whenever they are away from home. A team cares for one another. A team encourages and spurs one another forward. Team members put each other first. In this way, we teach our children what an appropriate level of responsibility for one another is.

What to do when your child is already being bullied

But what do I do if my child is already being bullied?

The points above are never too late to implement into your home. If you have found out that your child is being bullied, take these two steps as a part of deciding what is best to do.

Remove the shame –Bullying is, at its core, shaming another person in order to gain control. The assumption for a child is that if you were more popular or better at sports you would not have been bullied. This simply is not true.

Therefore as a parent you remove the shame from your child. Show your child respect by listening to all that they tell you about what happened. Listen first, and hold the talking for after they are finished.

Once your child is finished, remind them that it is not their fault that they were bullied. Praise your child for who they are, and speak identity into them. Be specific on this. Remind your child who they are. And especially if your child is resistant to this type of praise, find creative ways to speak this truth to them over the next several days.

  1. Evaluate the decision as a team –What do we as parents do? Do we step in, or talk to a teacher or coach? How do we handle the situation? While there are many factors to consider, it is important to keep your child in the conversation with you and your spouse. This is directly linked to removing the shame. By making your child a part of the decision-making process, you are giving your child a voice when he or she feels voiceless.

Whenever possible, make a unanimous decision about what to do. Make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what is going to be said or done. Be open to your child’s feedback, and set a date that the three of you will talk again in the near future to follow-up. This allows for adjustments to be made and gives your child another chance to naturally share about what is going on.


Josh Berger can be reached and scheduled with for training, teaching, or counseling at Alethia Counseling Center – Houston. For more resources on anti-bullying advocacy, visit