How Do You Tell Your Kids to Handle Bullies?

At some point, just about every child will come into contact with bullying. What have you told your child to do when that happens?

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to bullies and bullying.

Sticks and stones may break their bones and sometimes names do hurt them. So whether it’s a push on the playground, a nasty name on the softball field or a cyber attack, at some time or another every child will come “face-to-face” with bullying of some sort. In this week’s Moms Talk, we want to hear what you tell your kid when the inevitable bully crosses his or her path:

What do you tell your kids about dealing with bullies?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.
  • Jennifer Willenbrock of Nazareth is mom to two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 6 weeks. She was previously employed by Catholic Charities, where she worked in a girl’s group home in Phillipsburg, N.J.  

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Lisa Merk May 03, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I tell my children to say to the culprit not to say/do those things to them and then to tell me. I want to know what children have these tendencis, so I can keep an eye on them. I have had to talk to a parent about a bullying issue with my 1st graders (the other child was in 5th) and the attitude I got was "Not, my child - he would NEVER do that" - so I know not to fool myslef into thinking that the parent is handling it. It has been an ongoing problem... Schools are better with the issue, but they can't always know exactly what is going on and how long is has been going on. In another issue I know of a child that was bullied and ending up getting into it with his bully as he had just had enough (another instance where it had been going on in and out of school and for quite some time) and they BOTH ended up suspended.....I tell my children to always be kind to each other and to others - you never know what kind of circumstances that someone may be dealing with - but don't be afraid to stick up for yourself and tell an adult if something doesn't seem right or is offending to you!
Jennifer Elston May 04, 2012 at 08:27 PM
We had a situation in the fall at school where my daughter was, what I consider, bullied. I'm going to make an effort to keep the story short and free of detail (to keep the boy's identity anonymous). He had her in a fetal position, in tears in the nurse's office, unable to be consoled. I had to leave a meeting to go to her school mid-day to calm her down. It took ME and hour to calm her. After all was said and done, I sat with her that night and outlined a plan with her and then emailed my daughter's teacher to make her aware. Here is what I told her: Step 1--use words and say, "get off." Step 2--if necessary, yell, "get off." Step 3--if he doesn't get off, push him off. Step 4--Get to a teacher. I told her if she followed my instructions, then I would support her fully if she needed to get physical. I need my girls to know they need to be strong and stand up for themselves. In general, I tell my kids to always be kind to others and treat others as you want to be treated. I punish my children immediately when they exhibit any type of bully-like behavior.
JuliannaSmith May 04, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Bullying is frightening and humiliating at any age, so listen to your child. Reassure your child that you believe him and will find a way to keep him safe. Most kids can’t handle bullying on their own and they need your help, so provide it. Identify a trusting adult who can help your child when you’re not around. They must take this seriously, protect your kid, and, if necessary, keep this confidential. I would like to share this link, about a service on how you can protect your children. Check it out: http://safekidzone.com/
Jennifer Elston May 08, 2012 at 02:11 PM
After I posted my comment we were on the playground after school and a boy was harassing my daughter. The boy was previously being disrespectful to other adults on the playground and trying to destroy school property. The boy put her in a hold, from behind, and my daughter was clearly not amused. She told him to get off and he wouldn't. I watched her kick the boy until he would let go of her--my eyes and my daughter's eyes never parted. I gave her a look of support as I thought she needed to know she was doing the right thing. She freed herself and I could tell she gained confidence in herself because she handled herself. Like I said previously, I need my daughters to know how to defend themselves, and clearly my daughter needed that skill that day on the playground.
JuliannaSmith May 17, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Bullies should not be ignored. Your child needs to know that he or she does not need to be treated in this way and should not need to put up with it. Keep up the communication to make sure there problem with the bully does not come back. Your child should feel safe and secure at home. Be sure to provide a safe haven, letting your child know he or she has your love and support. I would like to share this link, about a service on how you can protect your children: http://safekidzone.com/


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