What Parents/Guardians Should Do

Try to stay calm as you encourage the child to share information. Children should be encouraged and praised for coming to you with situations that are uncomfortable or hurtful. For young children, parents need to help them identify their feelings and ask questions to better define the situation. Talk with the child about exactly what took place, who was involved and anyone who might have witnessed the bullying behavior.
  • Don't blame the child for being targeted.
  • Be aware that children often feel that telling adults and subsequent intervention will only bring more harassment from bullies.
  • Keep a written record of incidents (time, dates, names and circumstances).
  • Sometimes telling your child to "just ignore them and they'll go away" isn't enough. Sometimes telling your child to "fight back" will get them into even more trouble. Try to teach assertiveness, not aggression. Children need to learn to stand up for themselves verbally and parents can help them practice these skills.
  • Do not require children to talk together to "work things out." Unlike conflicts, bullying involves a power imbalance which means this strategy will not work.
  • Inform the appropriate adult in charge at the place where the bullying has occurred. An open and honest dialogue will begin to correct the situation. Together with the people in charge, you can develop a course of action to be taken to resolve the problem. The problem must be reported in order for the necessary action to be taken to resolve it!
If you don't get a satisfactory response, don't give up. Go to the next level of authority, or call Madison Youth and Family Services at 203-245-5645 for help.