How I Will Teach My Daughter To Combat Bullying




October was National Bullying Prevention Month. Started in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, National Bullying Prevention Month is a campaign that raises awareness and helps educate communities about how to handle bullying and ways to prevent it. Even though October is over, I want to keep the conversation going because bullying is such an important topic and one that affects many people.

Fortunately I did not experience bullying on a large scale in my youth, but I have many stories of times when people teased me and made me feel like I didn’t belong. My sister, who is 13 years younger than me, had a very different experience. By the time she reached middle school, cyber bullying was prevalent. People from her school would leave comments online and say horrible things to her.

To some degree, we expect our children to experience drama and conflict, especially during the tumultuous middle school years but, as with my sister’s experience with bullying, I wondered if her school did enough to support her. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an easy answer.

My daughter started preschool this year and even though she’s young, I frequently think about the type of communities I want her to be a part of. There are many things I can’t control as a parent, but one thing I can help my daughter understand is that she is in charge of what she puts out into the world. She can choose to put out negativity or positivity, but the choice is hers. Here are some of the things I will try to teach my daughter with my words and my actions that I hope will help encourage her to not be a bully, but to also stand tall if she or one of her friends is the target of someone’s bullying.

Everyone Has Worth, Especially You

This lesson is two-sided. On one hand, I want her to see value in every person she meets. I want her to understand that everyone has something to bring to the table and it’s important to honor that. On the other hand, I think it is easy to place more value on other people and what other people think. I want her to honor and respect others, but I also want her to honor herself first. This will be a lifelong lesson for her, but as much as I can I will do my best to remind and encourage her to see her own self worth. If she feels worthy of love and good treatment, it will be easier for her to see other people’s worth and to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Be An Ally

This can mean many different things, but what I hope my daughter will learn is to always align herself with people who need her support. I hear many stories of her hugging friends at school and checking on them to see if they are ok. I recently witnessed a really touching moment in her classroom when I was visiting one day. My daughter was upset and crying because she wanted to go home. Immediately all of her classmates came up to her and began giving her hugs to make her feel better. The teachers said that she always gives people hugs, so it was fitting that they wanted to hug her when she was sad. This was a clear example of my daughter getting back something that she frequently gives to others. I want her to use her caring nature to uplift others and support them when they need it.

Use Your Voice

One of the most powerful ways to combat bullying is by speaking up. People can speak up by telling an adult what they are going through and reaching out for help. Victims of bullying can also speak up by setting boundaries for how they want to be treated. An ally can speak up by standing up for another person who is a target of bullying. None of these things are easy, but if I teach my daughter from a young age that what she has to say is important and valued, she will be more likely to speak up in the big situations when her voice has the capacity to change lives. She is very strong willed and determined now, and I hope to nurture that aspect of her personality and encourage her to use her voice to better her own life and the lives of others.

All of these lessons seem simple, but they are an intricate part of essentially teaching my daughter that what she has to offer the world is important and that being kind to others and valuing what they have to offer is important too. I don’t know what her journey holds, but I hope to help her navigate it by listening, advocating, and learning alongside her.

If you or your child are struggling with bullying, I want to leave some resources here for you to check out. Bystander Revolution has a number of really great videos that I believe will resonate with young teens in particular. Also, the Anti-Defamation League has a number of great resources for educators, youth, and families. I did training with ADL in high school and as a teacher, and I always enjoyed their workshops.

Have you or your child dealt with bullying? What are some things that helped? Would you change anything about your experience if you could?

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Kristina was born in Boston, but has called many places home since then. Although she has lived in every time zone in the United States, Colorado is by far her favorite place to live. Kristina is married to her middle school crush who she met when she was 12. Together they have a very spirited and sweet 3 year old daughter who is nicknamed Baby Bop. Baby Bop is super extroverted and her mama is a strange combination of an introvert with an outgoing side. Once you get to know her she is anything but quiet. Kristina’s favorite activities include reading, laughing, dancing, singing (loudly), and exploring all of the local playgrounds with her daughter. Kristina recently performed in the 2016 Boulder production of Listen To Your Mother. Her writing has also been featured on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Parent.Co, The Mighty, and more. You can connect with her at or on Twitter (@ktinamou).


    • Thank Jennifer! Social media and the internet definitely have given bullies more avenues to communicate with and bother their targets. It can be really hard to manage because of the anonymity that can accompany internet use, which is what happened with my sister.

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I worry so much about my kids, and the most important thing about dealing with bullying is teaching my children to remember that it is not about them – that it is about the other person dealing with who knows what and acting out for who knows why. That they should talk to their teacher, to me, to their counselor. I totally agree with your notes about speaking up. Wonderful post!

    • Thanks Marlynn! I worry about it too. It can be hard for a child to understand that it’s not about them, but I think it’s important to remind our children of that because it rarely ever is about the target of bullying.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that Heather. I know it can be hard to navigate friendships, even at a young age. Glad to hear this post was helpful! If you are looking for more resources, I’d be happy to pass them along.

  2. You’ve listed every thing that a child would want to learn. ❤️I don’t really like the way people bully others but sometimes I pity those who bully. I hope your child won’t get bullied. I know she’ll get stronger someday.

    • Thank you Jen! Me too. It’s starting earlier and earlier these days so it’s never too early to start thinking about it.

  3. As a very senior citizen I remember growing up in the 1940’s when bullying was considered “part of the growing up process”, and we were basically taught to ignore the people perpetrating the action, but to try to show them that we were not afraid of them, or the behavior would perpetuate. As a chubby kid, I certainly “enjoyed” a great deal of teasing. Apparently human nature has not changed much over the decades and those that bully are still very much in evidence. There is a song made famous by Barbra Streisand which says that “children have to be taught to hate”. I think they have to be taught to love, as well. That you advocate “self love” first is, to me, psychologically correct — it’s hard to truly love others when you don’t love yourself as well. Your daughter is well loved, for sure, and hopefully she will grow into a confident, loving adolescent. Keep up the good work!!
    Your articles are most enjoyable and thought provoking.
    Charlotte Newman

    • Thanks for reading Gigi! You don’t look a day over 20 to me. Thanks for your comment. I agree that clearly human nature hasn’t changed much. I think it’s easy to slip in to making fun of things that scare or worry or confuse people, which is why learning how to love yourself is key. Hope you all are doing well!

  4. These are great lessons to teach your child and I hope I can teach my daughter the same! I especially love “using your voice” because I think so many kids are scared to speak up.

  5. My son is just a toddler, but I am so worried about what bullying will look like when he is older. It seems like it’s getting younger and younger! You gave some great tips. I love that your daughter’s classmates comforted her when she needed. I hope they all stick together and continue to treat each other respectfully.

  6. What a great lesson to teach. I think your right, at some level we do expect that they will go through something. I love that your teaching her to use her voice, for herself and others, I’m trying to teach the same to my children. I really just don’t want them to be caught up in allowing their worth to come from someone else who is the decided leader on all things “Cool” at school. It’s a difficult lesson to teach, peer pressure is HARD! You’re doing great!

    • Thanks Jen! Peer pressure is really hard. I decided I will just take this process day by day since I can’t predict anything, but I at least want to be aware of how I can help teach her to be a kind citizen of the world.


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