How can I help my child deal with cyberbullying?

Shawn Edgington
Get involved! Cyberbullying can start with children as young as 8 or 9 years old and typically continues until about age 16. Be proactive and tell your child to get an adult involved that they trust as soon as bullying starts. Kids fear there will be more bullying by telling an adult, but parents and school officials can help the victim of bullying decide what do and when the authorities should be contacted.

If your child comes to you for help, advice like "Just ignore her," or "Don't go on Facebook" aren't realistic and are definitely not relatable. Most children have to go to school where they will most likely have to see their bully many times throughout the day. Can you say gut-wrenching stress? Additionally, what good is it to avoid helping your child build the skills they need to confidently stand up to disrespectful people? Cyberbullying attacks occur from the moment a child wakes up through the moment they finally close their eyes, only to have the continuous harassment and threats start all over again.

Think back to when you were fourteen. Walking away in silence, hiding and avoiding a bully was considered weak and actually invited your bully to continue his or her harassment. The same is true today, only children are exposed to hundreds of opportunities for harassment daily, thanks to technology.

Instead, when your son or daughter comes to you for help, say, "I'm so glad you came to me, and I'm so sorry this is happening! Together, we can figure this out." If they don't feel physically threatened, come up with ways for your child to stand up to the bully using words and confident body language. Create a response script that works for your child and their specific situation. Tell kids not to react openly. When bullying starts, unkind kids are often looking for a reaction from their victims, a solid sign that their torture is becoming effective.

Your goal is to be your child's advocate, provide solid and relatable advice, and to successfully manage their situation head-on. This will also help avoid future situations from becoming a one-click nightmare. Remember, success for your child doesn't include defending their point of view, becoming BFFs with the bully, or using revenge. Success means getting the bullies to stop what they're doing to your child.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.