We are already halfway through this school year. By now, we have a pretty accurate view of how the rest of the school year will play out, from your child’s grades to their friendships. But what about bullying? Is abuse becoming part of their experience this school year? As parents, we shouldn’t be complacent to things like bullying, but addressing it can seem insurmountable.

Bullying can take forms physically, verbally, and even passively, and for children is often the cause of mental health issues. Children targeted by bullies often suffer from depression and anxiety, with aggression often presenting in males. Unfortunately, it can even lead to suicide in teens, especially females.

There are ways to help children become immune to bullying and develop sympathy rather than fear of their abusers. Whether it’s prior to school age, before the school year begins, or during the school year, here are some ways to help your child overcome the hardships of bullying.

1. Build Their Self-confidence
Start young. This can be developed even before the child acquires language simply through being responsive to your child’s needs, providing much needed physical and verbal affection. Responsiveness sometimes wanes as children get older or when a new sibling comes onboard. But it is especially important to make the child feel heard and wanted to reduce their vulnerability to put-downs from others. Speaking to your child while turning towards him or her, making eye contact, and summarizing what they say can do wonders for their self-esteem, helping to safeguard them from susceptibility to bullying. Provide affirmation of your child’s qualities, giving more attention to the positive attributes of your child rather than the negatives. Finally, explore their strengths and talents with them and, if at all possible, provide ways your child can develop these skills.

2. Talk about Bullying with Them
Before he or she enters school, discuss bullying with them. Make sure they respect others and gain tools to avoid being the victim of bullying.

3. Help Your Child to Develop Empathy for Bullies
Many times, bullies are actually hurt individuals who hurt to bring others down to or below their level. Putting people down gives bullies a sense of false empowerment needed because they feel weak and inadequate. Knowing this can empower your child.

4. Teach them to Create Distance
Bullies get satisfaction from seeing others cower. Teach your children to distance themselves from their abuser, be it mental or physical. Mentally, this means avoiding thoughts about the bully and, instead, finding positive activities that can fill the mind.  Other ways of mental distancing include ignoring the negative behavior of someone else. And in situations where your child must be around a bully, direct them to avoid interaction, eye contact, or even looking at their abuser, while allowing their abuser to see them happy and content, whether alone or with someone else.

5. Get Support
Encourage your child to talk to you and get help from teachers, friends, or from who they feel comfortable.

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