Tips and Strategies for Parents to Understand and Cope with the Bully and the Bullied

Not only are children and teens bullied at school, but in this technology-driven world, they are often bullied at home on social networks, in a more pervasive attack known as cyberbullying. These attacks can often have a greater lasting impact on the victim than the verbal taunts they hear at school. As a result, parents continue to ask, “What can I do to protect my child?” and perhaps more important, “Is my child a bully?”

In conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month in October, Dr. Colleen Logan, program coordinator of the M.S. in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program in Walden University’s School of Counseling and Social Service, offers parents tips to help determine if their child is a bully or is being bullied and provides some coping strategies to address bullying situations before they escalate. 

Bully or bullied?

  • Your child may be a bully if he or she: is easy to anger, easily frustrated and/or hot-headed, domineering, and verbally/physically abusive. Your child may also have an exaggerated need to “fit in” and be seen as “cool” by other kids.
  • Your child may be a bullying victim if he or she: develops excuses for not going to school, comes home from school hungry, comes home with missing items or torn clothes, is isolated from friends, has unexplained cuts and bruises, can’t concentrate on schoolwork/drop in academic performance, or withdraws from family. Other signs include loss of appetite, sudden behavioral problems at home and school, and a reluctance to talk about school.

Coping strategies

  • Spend quality time with your child and observe his or her interactions. It’s also important to listen to what other parents, children and your child’s teachers are saying about your child and his or her behavior.
  • Talk with your child about his or her behavior. Spell out what you consider to be bullying. Not only should you make it clear that you have zero tolerance for this sort of behavior but you should also implement clear and consistent consequences for bullying behaviors.
  • Monitor your child’s behavior on the computer and cell phone. Signs your child may be a cyberbully include: multiple email or Facebook accounts; long hours spent on the computer or cell phone, particularly late at night; shutting down screens or the computer when you approach; and/or appearing distressed or irritable if he or she can’t access the Internet or cell phone.
  • Take action. If you discover your child is engaged in bullying or is being bullied, immediately seek support from a school counselor or other mental health professional. Don’t dismiss or discount what’s happening.

In conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership presents the Walden On-Demand Webinar “Words Hurt: Understanding and Coping with the Bully and the Bullied.”

For additional tips and strategies for parents and educators on identifying bullying/bullied behavior, visit Walden University’s archived webinar.