How to Help Your Child Deal With Mean Kids At School

By Kathryn Hatter
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Mean kids are an unfortunate presence in many places, including school. If your child is experiencing teasing or hurtful treatment from other children, this fits the criteria for bullying, according to the website. While you can’t eradicate all aggression between kids, you can take steps to bully-proof your child and help her deal with peers who engage in hurtful behavior.

Realistic Goals

Kids can be mean to each other, and it’s unrealistic to expect to shield your child from all unkind behavior, warns psychologist Laura Markham, with the Aha! Parenting website. Instead of trying to protect your child from all types of mean treatment, adopt another approach. Strive to teach your child how to protect himself, how to deal with peers positively and how to get help with problems when he needs it.

Recognizing Improper Behavior

Teasing is a universal occurrence with children, but some teasing can cross the line and become inappropriate bullying. If teasing is a playful and mutual exchange between youngsters, it’s likely appropriate, according to the KidsHealth website. However, if teasing is unrelenting or hurtful, it is improper and meets the criteria of bullying. This improper meanness may manifest as verbal, psychological or physical mistreatment including threats, mocking, name-calling, extortion for money, spreading rumors and hitting.

Role-Playing Appropriate Responses

Practice role-playing effective responses to bullying behavior, suggests the American Psychological Association website. Ignoring and walking away may be one effective strategy for deflecting mean behavior. Teaching a few assertive phrases can be helpful, because your child can use them with other kids. For example, your child might say, “That’s not OK,” or “I don’t like that” in response to another child’s hurtful actions. Talk about how responses and interactions can provoke others, so it’s important to stay calm even if your child feels angry. In many cases, the best response to another child’s unkind or bullying behavior is to stay calm, make an assertive statement and walk away. Fighting back is never the correct response, warns the APA.

Avoiding Problems and Getting Help

Your youngster can learn how to avoid some bullying situations and how to get help. Talk about typical times when bullies tend to prey on victims, such as in deserted hallways or unsupervised bathrooms. Teach your child to try to avoid these situations to help minimize the opportunities for the behavior. Using the buddy system can also be effective at school. Suggest that your youngster find a friend to navigate known danger areas with, such as the cafeteria and hallways. Bullies may not bother other kids when they are not alone. It’s also appropriate to teach your child to seek help from faculty at the school when a negative situation arises and she feels she needs help.

Intervening on Your Child’s Behalf

Tell your child that you will help him resolve the mean behavior. Call your child’s teacher or the principal to discuss the situation. Provide the details your child has given you and ask how the school responds to allegations of bullying. The school should have a set process for resolving the situation. If the school’s response does not resolve the situation effectively, consider other solutions such as transferring your child to another school or educating your youngster at home.

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