October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Having been bullied all through grade school, it’s a topic that hits pretty close to home for me. Now that I have a grade-schooler of my own. I worry what he’s going through when I’m not there to help him. He is very open with me, so if someone is mean to him he’ll tell me what happened. Usually it’s nothing serious, and the teacher takes care of it.

One day his friend called him fat in front of other kids and really hurt his feelings. I talked to the mom about the incident – and she handled it just fine – but we moms aren’t there to fix things every single second, and at some point he may even stop telling me if something like that happens.

My son is overweight, I know this already. We eat ridiculously healthy, so it’s not like he sits around eating junk food all day. He also has some issues with his speech and balance. We’re working with his doctor, but in the mean time he is a target for bullies. He’s really tall as well. So while mentally and emotionally he’s just a little kid, he physically looks older, which often gets him bullied by older kids who may not realize what they are doing.

I’ve noticed him being picked on by older kids at the park pretty often. While I’m not the kind of mom who parents other people’s kids, I’m also not the kind of mom who sits back and lets my kid “deal with it” himself. Whenever a situation like this arises, I simply pull my son aside and loudly – so all of the kids can hear me – explain to him that sometimes kids are mean, and while they may or may not mean to hurt his feelings, we can choose not to play with them and find someone who is kind to us.

Here is some things you can do to try to prevent a young child from bullying or being bullied:

  • Build up their self esteem. Praise them for being a kind person, and for succeeding in things. Try not to concentrate on physical traits.
  • Teach them not to worry about what other people think of them, but also give them a way to deal with someone who might pick on them anyway. I tell my son to say “It’s not nice to make fun of people, I’m going to find someone else to play with.”
  • Most importantly, never talk about someone else in front of your children. Whether you think they’re listening or not, they hear it. Even if you are criticizing someone on a TV show, they can pick up on it and repeat that behavior on other kids.

So far these techniques have worked well for me. And after teaching my son about kindness and feelings, I’ve even witnessed him sticking up for other children as well – a behavior that I make sure to tell him I’m proud of.

Has your grade-schooler ever talked to you about bullying?


Photo Credit – Scholastic Bullying and Teasing:  No laughing matter

13 Responses to How to deal with grade school bullying.

  1. Libby says:

    My son was bullied pretty hardcore when he was in elementary school. I asked him if he wanted me to step in, and he told me he would handle it. I was a proud momma when I found out he had pulled the bully aside and said “It’s not ok to make fun of people for any reason, and I would rather be your friend than your target.”

    they’re still friends.

    Me on the other hand, I just hid when I was little. I was bullied pretty hard through all of school and didn’t know how to handle it. I did a lot of drama so I could hide behind other characters.

    You’re a good mom. Just explain to him that bullies are kids who are either bullied at home or are very very sad inside. <3

  2. Although my oldest is only in preschool, he came home very upset & was emotional all day yesterday but he wouldn’t tell us what had happened. It breaks my heart to think some one could be mean to my “baby” but I know it’s a reality that we may have to deal with. So, thank you for offering up these great tips!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! Great tips fo sho… I struggle because I want my kids to become independent and all, but yet, sometimes they tell me stuff that make my inner mama bear roar… I think they main key is definitely communication – with your kids, with their teachers, and with other parents… it takes a village after all.

  4. Pam says:

    Thanks for sharing!! This is a very important topic, and I’m glad you are sharing so many valuable tips!

  5. Rachel says:

    Could not agree more with Shelley! I want my kiddos to be able to handle things on their own, but as most people who know us IRL know that we had a bully situation w. our oldest and another girl in her school from 1st grade – 3rd grade. It took the superintendent and switching schools to put an end to it. All because the principal the best friend of the father, who’s daughter was bullying K. No parent is ever prepared for their 8 year old to come home and say “E told me to kill myself and make the world happy today on the bus. Maybe I should do it, then she would leave me alone”. My heart sank. She had tried to handle it on her own, went to teachers, aides and recess monitors. As soon as it got to the principal it stopped and nothing was done.

    Loved the tips!! Thank you so much for sharing them!

  6. Lydia says:

    These are awesome suggestions. My 7 year old daughter hasn’t yet really dealt with bullying, but her personality is so strong that I often worry SHE’LL be the bully. We do make sure we talk to her openly about people’s differences but that differences make us all interesting. I worry about other kids and their parents who may not be as open-minded or aware as some. Thanks for this. Will definitely be sharing!

  7. Tina says:

    Such great tips Angela!

    My son is 6 and is already falling into the routine of wanting to be friends with everyone so he will do whatever it take and take whatever they dish out at him.

    We’ve been working with him to help him learn that these aren’t friends and while we don’t want him to stoop to that behavior, we also don’t want him to not stick up for himself.

    It saddens me that bullying is becoming so much more prevalent.

  8. Andrea Kruse says:

    Love the tips. As a Mother I think this is my worst fear. How do we protect our children from the cruelty of others? Surround them with love, give them passion for life and confidence doing things they enjoy and try to keep the channels of communication open. Sounds like you are doing an amazing job!

  9. I think situations like this presents opportunity to teach kids how to be nice and treat each other, even when it is in front of your eyes, confronting them together so they can learn to get along in society is a helpful solution instead of playing the blame game, fighting back, or denial. It is situations like these that can teach kids how to resolve conflicts peacefully, even when they are in the workplace later on in life. Saying kids are mean so they can hear you also doesn’t solve the problem either, it puts a label on them, but there is a reason why kids are mean and it often starts in the home or their home life. I was bullied as a kid too and my mom’s mama bear came out, made it worse too. We have to work together to help solve the conflicts and that starts with talking it out with the children together so learn to get along with each other.

  10. Resa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Angela. I love that the you note that these tips can help prevent a kid from being a bully, too. Confidence really does so much for a child.

  11. Leah Segedie says:

    I tell my son he has to respect his body first and the teachers rules second. That means that if someone gets in his personal space in a way that he doesn’t like. He is to raise his voice. Then if someone nudges, punches, or grabs him, he is supposed to strike back. And a bit harder than they hit him. Because he has aspergers and red hair with freckles, I know that he’s going to need permission from me like this to protect himself. I was tortured as a kid because of my hair, but the boys got it worse than me. I’m hoping he doesn’t have to do this often, but boys play by a different set of rules than us. It’s all alpha stuff. It used to drive me nuts growing up because I was surrounded by nothing but boys all the time.

  12. I was bullied pretty badly as a kid and only got through it because of the arts. If I didn’t have self-esteem from all of that, I don’t know how I would have survived. I kept it from my parents because I didn’t know what they could do about it. I’m seeing a lot of artworks that tackle this topic lately and am interviewing people about it this month. It’s exciting to see all the discussion!

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