Jordyn Haroldson, contributing writer 

Bully Proofing Your ChildBack-to-school means shopping for school supplies, getting back into a routine and… dealing with bullies. One in four children report being bullied during the school year, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. This can be a difficult issue for both parent and child, but it should be discussed to help children learn how to effectively deal with bullying.

Teri Painter, a school counselor at Mount Logan Middle School, said it’s important to take action if you believe your child is being bullied. It’s important to stay involved in your child’s life so you can recognize problems. Ask questions about their friends and teachers at school. Know their favorite subjects. Make yourself available so your child feels they can come to you if they are having problems.

If your child is being bullied, talk to the school counselor and teachers as they work closely with the students throughout the school year. This gives teachers insight into behaviors others wouldn’t notice. Using these resources can help a parent and child find a solution.

It’s important to understand that bullies are often going through their own struggles, whether at home or school. The term “bully” is an odd word because many other things could be happening in a child’s life to make them act out at school. By labeling them a “bully,” you’re furthering the bullying process. It may be more helpful to encourage your child to think about why a peer may be acting aggressively. To help both children, parents, teachers and counselors should look at both sides of a situation.

So what should you do if your child may be the one creating conflict? Contact a teacher or counselor. Ask about your child’s behavior. Ask about their relationship with their peers. If there is a problem, start working with the school immediately.

Whether your child is being bullied or is the one bullying, it’s good to form the habit of helping them work through their feelings. John Gottman, author of “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child,” lists five steps of “emotion coaching,” which can help a child understand and regulate his or her feelings. Becoming more comfortable and familiar with one’s emotions allows a child (and adult) to make better decisions under emotional pressure.

  1. Be aware of your child’s emotions.
  2. Recognize your child’s expression as a perfect teaching moment.
  3. Listen with empathy and validate your child’s feelings.
  4. Help your child learn to label their emotions with words.
  5. Set limits when you are helping your child solve problems and deal with upsetting situations appropriately.

Bullying may be common, but it doesn’t have to be a part of your child’s life. Make yourself available and help your child traverse through school with your help and support.