Serving as the Executive Director of the Center for Effective Living, psychologist Dr. Herbert (“Herb”) Tannenbaum has worked with couples, teenagers, and children. Consequently, Dr. Herb Tannenbaum knows some of the best techniques for managing children who are bullied.
When a child experiences bullying, parents can help by responding strategically and intervening intentionally, but by overreacting, for example, they can also exacerbate the problem. Parents who judge or blame their child for being bullied or for talking about it may further the child’s experience of shame and prevent him or her from asking for help in the future. Calling for retribution or lashing out at the parents of the bullying child can also worsen the cycle of bullying.
Listening with empathy and soothing a bullied child, on the other hand, teaches him or her that it’s okay to ask for help and talk about his or her experiences. It may also help the child to know that bullying can happen to anyone and that he or she is not being targeted on account of some shortcoming or something of that nature. Brainstorming solutions with the child can engender a sense of empowerment, and focusing attention on cultivating the skills from which he or she derives pleasure can boost self-esteem and expand social networks.
Responding to bullying in this way can help a child manage the situation and feel supported and empowered by parents rather than further ashamed or afraid. These techniques may help him or her come through this unfortunately common situation in a healthy way.