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 stay protected 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 he or 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 shame or anger, but it is very important to do so in order to let them know that their feelings are okay. If your child doesn't think you understand their feelings, it will be exceedingly difficult for your son or daughter to talk to you about what to do. After all, shame motivates us to hide, to keep a low profile and 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 emotional reactions to difficult situations. Here is an opportunity to develop emotional intelligence by talking about tough feelings.
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