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Ask Sarah: What to Do When Your Kids Witness Bullying

Parenting expert Sarah Rosensweet shares her thoughts on a tough situation one mom found herself in

Ask Sarah: What to Do When Your Kids Witness Bullying

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Struggling with tantrums, bedtime boundaries, or simply wondering how to raise happy, confident kids? Sarah Rosensweet offers peaceful parenting advice to help families find balance.

Have a question for Sarah? Send us an email at editors@todaysparent.com.

Q: How do I handle a situation where my kids have witnessed bullying and then subsequent threats of violence between other children and are now nervous to go to school/go on the bus? Apart from obviously informing the school and other parents, I want to be able to talk to my kids about mental health and teach them empathy for the kids involved (the one who was bullied is on the spectrum and being monitored for suicidal thoughts and violent tendencies) but make sure they feel safe (and are safe) first and foremost.

- Mom of two, ages 7 and 5

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A: I know I don’t have the full story here, but I wonder why you need to give any explanation about the mental health or challenges of the child who was being bullied. I’m afraid an explanation may subconsciously send the victim-blaming message to our children that there are “reasons” why kids get bullied.

Of course, if your children don’t understand neurodivergence, we want to give them age-appropriate information. Great places to start are books like Neurodiversity- What’s That? by Nadine Arthur or Every Brain is Beautiful by Sara Furlong.

In terms of the safety of your kids and the other kids on the bus and supporting the child who is being bullied, I’m so glad you reported these incidents. I hope the school is taking measures to prevent this from happening again.

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I honestly don’t think there is any coaching or teaching YOU can do for your kids (who are only five and seven) to ensure they feel safe and are safe. That is up to the school. In case the school hasn't done anything and you still need them to ride the bus, Is there an older child or teen who rides the bus who you could ask to sit with your children? Could they sit by the driver?

Good luck. This is a really tough situation!

Need support with other parenting challenges? Our Ask Sarah series covers topics like how to survive without routine, setting boundaries and treating kids as equals and how to help with separation anxiety.

Author:

Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and her 15 and 18-year-old kids. Her 22-year-old son has launched.

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Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to “we’ve got this!”

Sarah offers a free course, How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids, so that you can be the parent you want to be. Read more at: www.sarahrosensweet.com  or listen to her top-rated parenting podcast, The Peaceful Parenting Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

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