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Help! My Child Is Being Bullied

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Five steps parents can take to protect their kids.

If you know your child is being bullied, start by taking a deep breath. Your first instinct may be to charge in and do something to protect your child.  However, your goal should be to help your child protect herself as much as possible, which will take some planning and understanding. So now, take another deep breath, and follow these five essential steps:

1. Listen. The first thing your child needs to know is that you understand how she feels. Two natural feelings in response to being bullied are shame and anger. It may be difficult to listen to your child talk about her shame or anger, but it is very important to do so in order to let her know that her feelings are okay. If she doesn't think you understand her feelings, it will be exceedingly difficult for her to talk to you about what to do. After all, shame motivates us to hide, to keep a low profile, not to raise painful topics with anyone, even our parents.

2. Share. If you can talk about memories of your own experiences of being bullied, teased, dissed or rejected as a child, and you can talk about how you felt at the time (not the brilliant thing you did to get even), you will send your child the message that this experience is normal and survivable. Your child will not only learn\ how to handle bullies, but also how to manage her own emotional reactions to difficult situations. Here is an opportunity to develop emotional intelligence by talking about tough feelings.

3. Brainstorm. It is more important for your child to learn to solve problems than to have them solved for her. So, after listening to feelings, invite her to think about things she can do. She may come up with some comical or even shocking suggestions, but accept them all in the spirit of brainstorming with the plan of later choosing the best ideas to act on. Affirming any plan that sounds realistic and supportable will give your child more confidence than if you tell them exactly what you think she should do. Keep Reading ...

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