From national research we know that bullying usually begins in the 3rd or 4th grade and builds to a peak in the 9th grade and then declines. We call this the bullying band. Chances are, if you interact with a child or children in the bullying band, they have been on the receiving end of bullying at some point. Most kids are resilient and able to move beyond the incident(s) – some need more time and attention to heal the wounds of bullying. Regardless of the situation, here are 10 ways that we can support a bullied child as adults:
- Make time for conversation.
- Keep the conversation private so the child feels like they can share as much as they need to.
- Listen first, talk later.
- Don’t make assumptions about how they should feel – allow them to express their feelings in whatever words make sense to them.
- If it is necessary to involve school administrators, check with the student first about sharing what they have told you.
- Affirm the child with positive language, helping them recognize the good characteristics they possess.
- Support the student in responding to future bullying incidents in a way that respects themselves and others.
- Help them develop a buddy system – a group of friends or trusted adult that the child can go to if a bullying incident happens at school.
- Don’t support retaliation.
- Choose kindness in your own interactions with people who may be difficult.
Some of these tips are adapted from Kidscape.