What to Do When an Adult Insults Your Child?

Don't handle an adult bully with anger.

Most parents prepare for a time when their child comes home complaining of a bully at school or at the playground, but rarely do they consider that bullies come in all shapes and sizes and the person to insult their child might be an adult. The way you handle an adult that insults your child is important because it will teach your child how to handle insults from others as well as show your child that it is possible to handle an uncomfortable situation with grace and maturity.

Listen to Your Child

If the insult came from an adult when you were not present, it is important to listen to your child and let him tell you all of the facts. This is the same method to use if another child is bullying your child. Gather the facts of who else was present, what exactly was said and inquire if your child told another adult about the incident. Remind your child that the adult's behavior is not the child's fault.

Calm Down

Regardless of whether or not you were present to hear the insult, before you try to remedy the situation, you should take a few moments to calm yourself down, according to Debbie Pincus, a licensed parent and relationship counselor. While it might be hard, try not to take the insult personally, do not overreact and try not to let previous incidents with the adult in question color your judgment. While returning the insult might make you feel better in the short term, it will not teach your child an effective way to deal with bullies.

Talk to the Adult

Once you have calmed down enough to think about the insult and situation in a reasonable manner, it's time to talk to the adult. If this is not possible, as when the insulting adult is a stranger you meet on the street or in a store, a simple, “That was rude and uncalled for” and walking away might be your best course of action. If the adult is someone your child will have repeated interaction with, speak to the adult about the insult and get the adult’s side of the story if you were not present for the insult. Let the adult know that he hurt your child’s feelings and you would appreciate if the situation did not occur again.

Minimize Exposure

If the insults continue even after a heart-to-heart with the other adult, minimize your child’s exposure to the bully. If the adult is a schoolteacher, church member or family friend, make a plan with your child to never be in the same area or space as the adult, if possible. If the insults are happening at school, speak with the administration to protect your child.