What do I do if I believe my child is being bullied?

1. Believe them when they tell you someone is bothering them. They need your guidance and support in these situations.

2. Teach them to assert clear boundaries, as to what they will tolerate, and what they will not. This applies to both personal and cyber bullying.

3. Teach them to stand up for themselves and be assertive. Practice role playing as the bully and have your child practice telling you to STOP, in a firm but civil manner. This does in fact give most bullies pause, because it's a different response from what they expected.

4. Teach them to COMPLETELY ignore the bully. Practice trying to upset them and have them pretend you do not even exist. Help them understand that the bully's key motivation is their upset. Convince them that if they do not get upset, the bully will have no reason to continue.

5. Teach them humorous responses to the common slurs the bully uses. For example, if they are being called ugly, they may want to respond with something like "I'm sorry you think that". Remember to keep the responses civil... no stooping to their level by name-calling back.

6. Teach them to recognize potentially harmful situations, for which they should seek adult intervention. Actual threats of harm or causing harm are criminal offenses and should be treated as such by authority figures.

7. Help them remember that these are not quick fixes. Bullies and their targets get into patterns that took time to become ingrained. Breaking those patterns will take just as much dedication. Encourage them to keep at it, even if they think it's not helping. It may take a while. Prepare them that the bullying may even get worse initially, in an attempt to get a reaction. Support them in holding their own. The bully will give up if they are persistent.