You are here: grownupsmag.comParenting“A” is for Advice – Bullying

“A” is for Advice – Bullying

Advice for Bullying
My child came home from the park yesterday and told me that an older kid was calling him names. How can I stop my child from being bullied?

A is for Advice - Bullying

Q: My child came home from the park yesterday and told me that an older kid was calling him names. How can I stop my child from being bullied?

A: While your concern is legitimate, let’s step back a minute and really look at the situation. Do you remember the early 1990s when a great many children were diagnosed with the newly discovered Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? After so many diagnoses, people began to look at whether or not every child deemed to have ADHD truly had the condition (some did; many didn’t).

Now apply that to the instances of bullying we hear about today. While bullying is a very real and very serious problem, it’s also a buzzword that gets thrown around a little too much. Some childhood behaviors that adults are quick to label as bullying behavior are actually just kids not being very nice to each other.

Three criteria should be considered when determining whether or not an action is considered bullying. According to, the behavior has to be aggressive, repeated or ongoing, and take advantage of a real or perceived imbalance of power. If what you described with your child is an isolated incident, it is not bullying. It’s just an ill-behaved kid being mean. If, on the other hand, this is not an isolated incident and the same child has treated your son this way before, or if you feel this child has the potential to continue berating your son, the behavior can be classified as bullying.

So how can you help your child avoid another such encounter? Most childhood misbehavior—bullying or otherwise—occurs when there is little to no adult supervision. To that end, accompanying your son to the park can certainly help in preventing this from happening again. If you’re unable to go with him or if you think he’s old enough that you’d be an embarrassment, don’t let him go unless you know another parent will be there to keep an eye on him. When he does venture out, make sure your son knows to avoid the older child and seek adult help, such as another mom in the park or uniformed worker, if necessary.

If the child attends the same school as your son, alert the teacher to possible problems so that the situation can be monitored. Keep tabs on your son’s social media and text messages to make sure the behavior isn’t carrying over into other areas of his life.

Regardless of what you choose to do, insulate your son by letting him know he is loved, valued, and important. Children with high self-esteem are less likely to fall victim to bullies.

About the author

Crystal Plante

Crystal Plante

Crystal is a teacher, reading specialist, freelance writer, author, and married mother of four. In her spare time—or whatever spare time a mother of four has—she enjoys reading, cooking, watching television, and volunteering in her community. Crystal is an unabashed chocoholic and a long-suffering (but recently redeemed) fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. You can visit her website at

  • Angela Todd

    I love this, it strikes a great balance between old school “boys will be boys” attitudes and the more contemporary worried parents that want to mediate every interaction (I am one myself, trying to kick that habit!). nice work!

  • pixystik4u

    talking to the teacher is the best. The poor kids. They need to be under supervision

  • Amanda

    Excellent advice. I find that the term “bullying” is thrown around too quickly sometimes, which makes it difficult to gauge whether a situation really is bullying and needs adult intervention. Example A: When my oldest son (he’s 6) was in kindergarten, he kept having issues with another kid in his class. This kid would make fun of his artwork, punch him in the stomach at recess, encourage other children to tease him, etc. It got to a point where my son didn’t want to go to school anymore (and he *loved* school), so I stepped in, and it turned out this kid was targeting other children as well. That was, to me, a clear case of bullying. Example B: A few days ago, my 4 year old got off the bus and told me that another child on the bus punched him in the face a few times for no reason. My son wasn’t particularly upset, there was no visible sign of injury, the other kid had never done this before, and the bus driver made sure the child would be sent to the principal’s office the next day. While this was definitely mean behavior and not something to be tolerated, I would not consider it bullying as it was a one time thing.

  • Shannon

    I was actually bullied almost my entire school life and no one did anything, I think when it is witnessed teachers should get involved.

  • Jana | Merlot Mommy

    I’m glad to see talk about what the true definition of bullying is. One or two random acts of meanness does not make it bullying behavior “the behavior has to be aggressive, repeated or ongoing, and take advantage of a real or perceived imbalance of power.”

  • Katie

    It’s hard to stop bullying, but there are things you can do to support your child. Going to the school leadership (teacher first, then principal, then superintendent) first is best. Involving other parents usually doesn’t work well unless it is outside school grounds. Make sure to always build self esteem in your kids and explain to them that the other person is hurting too.

  • Sadie

    I try to let my kids work their own issues out, but sometimes it gets so bad that you have to involve teachers. We had an experience where the teachers did nothing, the principal did nothing, etc etc. We went to the news, and even though the bullying never stopped (we ended up moving away from it, actually), it did get awareness out there which is what we wanted!

  • Jen St Germain Leeman

    I encourage my daughter to talk to me about her social interactions at school and give the best advice I can. In her old school there were a couple girls that were becoming a problem, but since we’ve moved to a different town, she’s been doing great and I see an increase in her self esteem and self confidence which is what I want most for her!

  • Tatanisha Worthey

    This is such a hard and scary issue. And it seems that bullying is only getting worse. I want to protect and shield my kids but I know they have to grow thick skin. I try to see if the issue can be worked out w/out involving me.. and if I can’t then I will step in by talking to the Teacher, the Principle the other kids Parents if necessary. I don’t believe in fighting all of kids battles, but I do believe in doing my job as the Parent.

Read More