Bullying is a serious problem among school-aged children. While many parents assume that boys are usually the victims and perpetrators of bullying, girls deal with bullying just as frequently. They might not engage in fistfights or physical combat -- girls who are bullied are often recipients of indirect verbal behaviors, such as rumors, gossip or social exclusion. As a parent, you don't have to stand by and watch your daughter suffer endlessly -- take a proactive role to help her deal with bullies.
Address the situation directly if you think she's been bullied, advises Kids Health. Your daughter might feel ashamed or embarrassed to open up to you about her experiences, but it's crucial for her to talk about it with an adult. Reassure her that it's not her fault -- explain that bullies usually hurt others because they are hurting on the inside and have low self-esteem. Praise her for having the courage to discuss the situation with you.
Learn to recognize the signs of bullying. According to education specialist and school psychologist Kathy Robison, writing in a National Association of School Psychologists online piece on this topic, signs in a bullying victim are not always obvious, but can include sudden feelings of anxiety; low self-esteem; unexplained physical ailments, such as headaches or stomachaches; sleep disturbances; and a fear of going to school.
Teach your daughter assertiveness skills, advises a publication on girl bullying and aggression from Kids Peace, a private charity dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children. Girls often suppress feelings of anger and frustration when they are bullied, which can lead to increased emotional and mental health problems. Let her know that she doesn't have to be a victim. Instruct her to walk upright and look others directly in the eye. Role-play situations with her where she can practice standing up to the bully verbally, such as by saying, "I don't have to listen to what you're saying. You don't know anything about me."
Encourage your daughter to develop positive, healthy friendships with supportive peers who don't bully others, suggests Kids Peace. A nurturing peer group helps your daughter become more resilient and resistant to bullies by loving and appreciating her for who she is. Suggest that your daughter join an afterschool club or an extracurricular sports team to help her develop a sense of camaraderie and self-efficacy.
Role-model appropriate behavior in front of your daughter, advises the National Crime Prevention Council. Don't gossip, bad-mouth or make fun of others, especially when your daughter is present. Engaging in these behaviors only sends her the message that it's acceptable for her to gossip or make fun of others -- and that it's OK for others to treat her the same way.
Build your daughter's self-esteem. A healthy sense of self-esteem can help fortify your daughter against a bully's attacks and might prevent her from becoming a victim in the first place. Let her know that you love her on a daily basis. Tell her that she is strong, beautiful and smart. Encourage her to develop her unique talents and strengths. Praise her for her accomplishments.