Ways To Help Bullied Kids Learn Resilience

By Laura Ferguson

Bullying has been a buzzword for years now, but at its root, the conversation is about how we treat each other. It isn’t a modern-day phenomenon, nor tween and teen exclusive. For adults caring for young people there is no full-proof intervention, but there are ways you can help a bullied child change the narrative.

Reframe weaknesses, and help your child understand that the things bullies pick out about them may actually be their best strengths. Being different can draw attention but does not mean broken. When young people are themselves, they attract a different kind of friend.

Turn the experience around and empower your child to use the empathy created through suffering to help others. Students across the country have spearheaded inclusion initiatives in their schools, including helping kids find others to sit with at lunch, creating peer mediation groups to handle disagreements, and more.

Help your child discover a like-minded social network. Ask what she or he is good at, what makes them happiest and what they like. Steer them in the direction of activities that will allow them to use their strengths. Finding one loyal pal through an activity will help them understand that they have what it takes to be a good companion and a desired friend.

Look for environmental and social patterns and help your child avoid hot spots – the back of the bus, a specific classroom, the soccer game during recess. When friends are doing the bullying, start conversations about what a good friend looks like, and help your child realize when they are sacrificing themselves for a harmful friendship.

Know when to intervene. If your child’s safety is ever at risk or they seems to be emotionally overwhelmed, you should use the proper channels to remove them from traumatic settings and seek therapy. Adults need to show young people that they have their back, and children need to feel safe and cared about, especially at school.

For more ways to build resilience in youth, check out Teach Resilience: Raising Kids Who Can Launch! by Dr. Deborah Gilboa, MD.

Laura Ferguson is the Executive Director at Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana.