How to confront the parents of your child’s bully


(Photo: Pixabay)

You find out your child is being bullied at school. You want to confront the other child’s parents. How do you go about that?

Do it with dignity

This can be tricky. I’ve seen too many of these conversations turn into wars. If not handled correctly, the aggressor’s parents can end up having what I call the “not my kid syndrome.” If you confront the parents, do it with dignity, not in anger. Don’t post it on social media. Stay calm, and let them know you’re uncomfortable discussing this.

If your school is trained in handling these situations, it is best to involve them. Parents should go to the school and remain calm, asking for the school’s help without making demands. If parents take the correct approach, the school can offer the aggressor’s parents help in working to change the child’s behavior without even using the word “bully.”

Parents should be sure that the school documents the bullying that is taking place and keeps a record of the school’s proposed actions. They can even send a thank-you email to the school after the meeting.

— Ross Ellis, founder and chief executive officer of STOMP Out Bullying

Acknowledge your own feelings

Finding out that your child is being bullied at school is a difficult and painful experience. I encourage parents to take some time to acknowledge their own array of feelings related to the situation.

It is also important for parents to provide space for their child to process emotions after being bullied. This could look like talking calmly with your child about it, giving him or her space to be upset or offering empathy.

After parents have done these things, I would recommend reaching out to the other child’s parent to set up a one-on-one meeting. Begin by expressing your concern about the interactions between the children. Highlight how your child has been feeling about those interactions. Ask if the other parent is aware of what has been going on.

Express your desire for help changing the other child’s behavior. Try to avoid blaming the parent or talking negatively about his or her child; focus on the behavior you don’t like, not the child’s character. Be cautious about language that can cause defensiveness and arguments.

— Dr. Adia Gooden, Clinical psychologist at the University of Chicago’s Student Counseling Service

By Christen A. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

———

©2017 Chicago Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.