Make SURE Kids know you CARE. Don’t assume that a child knows. No matter how busy you are, tell young people often, “Your safety and well being are the most important things in the world to me. If anything bothers you, I want to know, and I will do my best to help you.”
Listen in a calm, caring way when young people come to you with their problems. No matter what you think they should have done differently, or how trivial it seems to you, no matter how busy you are, start by saying, “Thank you for telling me.” Remember that a child who is complaining about someone needs help – even if this help is in finding more positive ways of getting attention or being powerful.
Be compassionate rather than telling kids not to be upset or giving a lecture. Ignoring or suppressing upset feelings might cause a child to hide these feelings from you, but does not make the hurt go away. Hidden hurt can build up like the pressure inside of a soda bottle and might explode into unsafe actions. Instead, kids can learn to manage upset feelings if they feel safe talking about them, get support in solving problems and learn how to manage their emotions.
Take charge of your own feelings so that you act calmly instead of overreacting. It’s normal to feel worried and upset when you learn about a potential threat to your child’s well being, but if you get very upset, your child may try to take care of you or shut down.
Show kids you care by following through and doing something to solve the problem, even if it is difficult. If a child is being bullied, showing you care means:
Because kids often forget, keep reminding them. Ask once in a while, “Is there anything you’ve been wondering or worrying about that you have not told me?”
For more ideas on what to do if your child is being bullied, see Bullying in Schools: Seven Solutions for Parents.