Nip Bullying in the Bud

What do I do when another kid is bothering my kid all the time and won’t stop?

"Another kid at school is repeatedly and specifically antagonizing mine. In class, the other kid will blame my kid for things that he himself has done, like talking in class when all the kids should be quiet.

Should I let my kid navigate this himself? How do I build his confidence in a way that can be helpful if this continues to bother him?"

- A Legends Parent

Let’s hear from the experts on the Legends team 👇

This is bullying—it's repeated and targeted at your kid. While some conflict among kids can be healthy, bullying is never good or useful for any child. Research has shown that again and again.

For anything where your kid is in serious, immediate physical or psychological damage, go directly to the principal and raise holy hell. For more mild forms of bullying like this one, here's where I'd start:

  1. Coach your kid through a direct, firm, response: "Stop it. Don't talk to me like that." Something that leaves absolutely no room for plausible deniability. 

  2. Coach your kid to talk to his friends about the fact that this is happening and ask if they can back him up if they see it happening.

    1. Note: It's never kids' responsibility to stop themselves from being bullied. There's an adult who's not doing their job in this situation. However, research shows that peer interventions are more effective in stopping bullying than adult interventions, and by doing this your kid will have built the skills to set boundaries for himself.

  3. If those things don't work even once, coach your kid through approaching a teacher (in person or via email) and laying out what is happening. Have him emphasize that it's repeated and targeted, he's already confronted the bully about it, and it hasn't stopped.

  4. If that adult doesn't step in, then the school is being negligent in a clear bullying situation, which is against the law (at least in the US). So at that point, you go to the principal and lay out what's happened and the failure of adults to intervene. 

If you need more advice or want to go a level deeper please reach out to me directly ([email protected]). As I’ve mentioned in the past, I started my career in bullying prevention and am still on the board of the International Bullying Prevention Association, so am happy to connect with other experts or discuss specifics in more depth.

I agree with Fish’s response here. The sad part of this story is that bullying continues through middle school, high school, into college and even beyond.

Bullying goes beyond meanness and should not be tolerated. Teaching your child how to get advice and support is critical, as dealing with it throughout life is frankly something that we all will likely need to do at some point. Clear communication and boundary setting is key.

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