“I became shy because I was overweight. At 16 I was 182 pounds and was called ‘Blubber.’ It was pathetic and childish, but girls are so catty. It lasted for about two years. Eventually, I must have told my mother, and she took it up with the teachers.”
~Kate Winslet, actress
As the mom of a child who was bullied in elementary and middle school, I know the heartache and pain it can cause. I also learned the importance of helping your child through it so that they can have a better sense of security at school and greater self-confidence.
Listen to your child’s complaints, fears and concerns with empathy and respect and let them know you believe them and support them.
Do not blame your child. Let your child know you will be there to help.
Don’t overreact. Take the time to calmly get the facts. Don’t immediately rush in and get involved; it may not be necessary. The child may be able to handle the situation alone with some coaching from you about how to respond effectively but non-violently.
Talk to your child about when he should come to you or another trusted adult if the bullying continues. Sometimes the child thinks this is tattling; discuss the difference between tattling and telling (your guidance counselor can be a tremendous resource in this regard).
Work with your child’s teachers to make sure your child is safe (sometimes your child will object to you doing this, but after you’ve exhausted other measures, it can be extremely helpful).
Interestingly, there are other celebrities who have spoken about the bullying they received in school (Michael Phelps, Tyra Banks, Miley Cyrus, Rob Pattison, Tom Cruise), which proves children can overcome the bullying and rise above obstacles.
By Claire Gawinowicz
Certified Parenting Educator