Friday, March 4, 2016

5 Better Ideas than Bully Proofing Your Child

It's scary when your child is on the receiving end of bullying behavior. What can you really do about it?

The truth is, I haven't bully proofed my children. I haven't even tried.  Bullying isn't fun, and it can be dangerous. I remember how it defeating and scary it felt, don't you? Bully proofing isn't the answer though.

The term bully proofing implies that it's possible to totally protect your child from the experience of being bullied. Are you going to isolate your child, or follow them around threatening anyone who dares hurt them? You and your child would become the bullies. 
Bully proofing isn't the answer, but there are things you can do to help your child over come the effects of bullying.

It's scary when your child is on the receiving end of bullying behavior. What can you really do about it?

5 Better Ideas than Bully Proofing

These are things we've done and found effective against the meanness our children have faced at school.

1. Be at school. I was taking advantage of our school's open lunch policy when I noticed that my child was making an odd seating choice. If I hadn't been there, I may never have known that there was an issue that needed to be addressed.

Helping in the classroom has also allowed me to get acquainted with my children's classmates. Often I can pick up dynamics that my child may be missing, which is important.

2. Listen when they talk. One child likes to talk right off the bus, another at bed time, and it seems there is always something important to be said when we need to get out the door. Be attentive, even to off handed comments or things that seem insignificant. 

In order to ward off bullies, your child needs confidence, and one of the best ways to build that confidence is to make them know that you think what they say has value. Better yet, confidence will keep your child from being the bully.

Children don't always know how to communicate in difficult social situations. When you start probing you may find that the seemingly random comment was actually the introduction of something major.

3. Coach your child to use appropriate social skills. Remember the story of the child who tried to help the butterfly by ripping open its chrysalis? The butterfly failed to develop its own strength and never flew. The same thing can happen to our children.

Adult work places and social settings have the same dynamics as public schools. If your child can deflect play ground insults, she is well on her way to being able to handle crude comments from her coworkers.

Strategies to reinforce with your child include saying "No", seeking a compromise, and appealing to an authority. 

4. Contact teachers.  Of course your child isn't an insect and the situation may be more like being chased by a hungry bird than breaking out of a chrysalis. Asking for insight to use in coaching your child is a good starting point.

5. Have Compassion. When my sweet child runs up to the car sporting a bandage, something clicks inside and I want desperately to be sure that she is never ever harmed again. My mind jumps from homeschooling to what I want to tell that principal!

Fortunately, I called my sister instead, and as I vented, she made a very perceptive statement. "Sounds like a classic bully." 

Who is a "classic bully"? It's the child whose parents are in trouble with the law, the child who has a learning disability, the one who is pawned off on a resentful older sibling after school. Would you really go after that child with all your adult gusto? Of course not.

I need to take steps to be sure my child is learning the needed coping skills, and, in extreme situations, given protection. However, I don't need to become a bully, I don't want my child to be a bully, and that's why I choose not to bully proof.

The Kid Bloggers for Public Education are Talking about Bullying Today. Join me in seeing what these wise moms have to add.

Notes in the Locker by 3 Dinosaurs

Other Posts from Thriving STEM:


  1. I love to have lunch with my kids. It helps me stay connected and observe.

  2. These are great tips! I don't really think bully-proofing is possible, anyway.

    1. Thank you! I agree with you. Bullying is unavoidable, but we do have control of our responses.

  3. Great suggestions! I love that you are raising your children to be strong and confident, as well as kind.You seem to have a very balanced approach to bullying and that is just what kids need today!


I can't wait to hear what you have to say! Thanks for sharing.