Tips for Getting Your Child to Tell You about It

The best defense against bullying is openness and talking about it. But it can often be hard to get your child to do that. They may be ashamed, or embarrassed, or be scared that you’ll have a "bad" reaction. You can help mitigate this issue by not showing your emotions and being clinical about the discussion so that you can get your child to talk to you.

1. Don’t Be Emotional – Keep your emotions to yourself. If you get too sad, angry, or emotional when talking to your child about any issue, they’re going to back off the discussion. Your emotions are very important to them and can overwhelm the strongest child. Try to show concern without tears, shaky voice, or other problems that can signal to your child that you’re distressed.

2. Ask Your Child Open-Ended Questions – When you ask your child questions about bullying, it’s best to ask questions that require more than a "yes or no" answer. If you don’t do that they’ll just say yes or no, and you won’t get the information you want and need from them.

3. Do Not Judge Your Child – No matter what your child tells you, don’t judge them or make them feel judged. That’s not the best way to get them to tell you things. Even if they reacted badly to the situation, it’s not the time to judge. Instead, it’s the time to listen to them so that you know what to do next.

4. Notice the Signs – Learn the signs of bullying so that you can pay attention to what is going on without even talking to your child. That way you have a clue about what questions to ask your child when you do try to talk to them about bullying.

5. Avoid the Word "Bully" – It’s best not to use the word "bully" when you’re talking to them about bullying. Instead, talk about the behaviors when you’re identifying what happened to them. For example, if your child talks about someone at school who is physically intimidating them, don’t call that child a bully - just talk about the behavior.

6. Help Them Build Anti-Bullying Skills – Do talk to your child about how to mitigate bullying by not responding in the way that the child doing the mean behavior likes. For example, many bullies act that way to intimidate someone who they see as competition. If you want to stop them, don’t respond in a way that shows them it’s working.

7. Understand the Causes of Bullying – If you can get into the research about the types of things that causes a child to participate in bullying, you can also usually figure out how to stop it. Many bullies are simply scared kids who are trying to get control. That doesn’t help your child who is being harmed right away, but you can possibly put a stop to the bullying by understanding the behavior long term.

8. Listen – The best thing you can do to get your child to talk to you is to listen to them. When you listen, you’ll repeat what you think you heard, and you’ll also not judge, nor try to tell them what to do right away or overreact to anything.

When talking about anything with your child, including bullying, it’s imperative that you don’t let your emotions take over. It will make your child clam up and be afraid to go further into the discussion. Keep your calm and let them talk more than you. You’ll get much more information that way.

Categories: Bullying