How would you handle it if your daughter were being bullied? You’d be outraged, of course, but before you call the school, listen to Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out.
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How to Help Your Daughter Deal with School Bullies Lisa: I’m Lisa Birnbach for howdini.com, and our guest today is Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out. Bullying is such a problem. what do you do as a parent when you find that your kid is being bullied? Rachel: It’s a great question. it’s the one thing that everybody worries about. First thing you want to do is really affirm your child’s experience. You don’t want to say, this is how all girls are, all girls are evil, it happens to everybody. You want to say, you know, I understand this is horrible, I understand this is so painful. Don’t tell her not to feel the way she feels. That’s first thing’s first. Next, you want to interview your daughter, find out what exactly happened. who was there, when did it happen, where did it happen? Get her to be as specific as you can. And try not to get super emotional about it because you don’t want your daughter to have the impression that you’re falling apart. You’ve got to be the rock; you don’t want to let her think – Lisa: Oh, that’s good. Rachel: Yeah. Lisa: Thinking. Rachel: Yeah, you don’t want to let her feel like, you don’t want to let her feel like she has to take care of you. You are there to take care of her because I think it’s really common and understandable that – particularly moms – get very overwhelmed by feeling when they see their daughter hurt, and not least because they have often been odd girls out themselves in that past. So, try to keep it together, interview your daughter, and also – be careful about this – but see if you can find out what contribution your daughter might’ve made to the situation. If she’s out-and-out bullied, the likelihood is she was probably doing nothing. But the truth of the matter is, a lot of the time, it takes two to tango. That doesn’t mean it’s her fault, there’s a difference. But what has she done? And it's good to know that if you go in and talk to the school, because you don’t want to go in and appear like that crazy parent who’s making demands and blaming everyone – Lisa: Mmhmm. Rachel: But has no fault yourself. Lisa: You’re the mother. You’ve interviewed your kid, you’ve, and you’ve sort of followed the Rachel Simmons plan. Then what do you do? Rachel: Alright, so – Lisa: Who do you complain to? I always want to call the parents, but I know that’s the wrong thing to do. Rachel: Yeah. The impulse is to absolutely run up to the parent, strangle the parent, and confront the child. you don’t want to do that, mostly because you’re really doing a disservice to your child. Empower your child to take the matter into her own hands as much as possible. Let it be a learning experience. This will mean that you’ve got to sit on your hands and bite your tongue. You want to fight the battle. you want to fix it for her. But ask her to pick three possible things that she could do to respond to what’s happening, before you even pick up the phone to call the school. What are three things she can do? And if she does each of those three things, what might happen? So, for example, do you want to do nothing about it? And if you do nothing about it, what’s likely to happen? Will it continue, or do you think maybe it could stop? Then let her make the choice of what she wants to do. Maybe the choice is ‘I could tell the teacher’. Okay, let her tell the teacher. What will happen if you tell the teacher? There might be retaliation. But put the matter in her hands. Now if you’ve done that, and that doesn’t work, you’ve got to pick up the phone, you’ve go to talk to the teacher. You don’t go to the principal. if you go to the principal right away or the administrator, the teacher will be resentful because the teacher will feel the matter has been taken out of her or his hands. You talk to the teacher. You don’t accuse. you ask questions. You find out what’s going on, you see if you can corroborate the teacher’s point of view by talking to the school counselor, by talking to a coach or a gym teacher, but yo