Bully-Proof Your Child

How to work with P.S. 3 to protect your child from bullying and other mean behavior

Bullying is unacceptable at P.S. 3. We believe this behavior is best addressed by building a strong, respectful community. Every class at P.S. 3 spends considerable time on community building. “Hands are for helping” is an often repeated mantra both in classrooms and at recess. However, building a safe school community requires the peaceful participation of each member of the community.

Help your child learn how to be “bully-proof.”


A bully-proof child:

1)      is able to say “Stop that! I don’t like it,” in a loud voice

2)      knows when to walk away from a situation and get help

3)      can identify adults who are able to help her/him

4)      gets help when she/he sees another child is being treated badly

What you can do to help your child:

1)      Role play/practice with her/him, with you being the “aggressor” and your child telling you in no uncertain terms to stop. Do this until your child can consistently say “Stop that! I don’t like it,” in a loud voice.

2)      Role play/practice teasing and walking away. Give your child a chance to play both roles, the teaser and the person being teased, until s/he feels confident that s/he can use them in a real situation.

3)      Help your child identify adults in school (or after school) who can help if s/he feels unsafe or threatened. If your child is shy, make a point of introducing your child to these “safe adults” and making sure the adults are aware of your child’s shyness.

4)      Help your child identify children who treat him/her well and seek these children out as friends and playmates.

5)      Help your child identify fun things to do at recess that do not involve any type of aggressive play.

Some important things to remember:

  • Children, like adults, are often not nice to each other. They hurt each other’s feelings. This is unacceptable, but actual bullying refers to repeated or orchestrated behavior.
  • DO: If you believe your child is being treated badly by another child, bring it to the attention of your child’s teacher. Your child can only tell you what happened from her/his point of view. There may be more to the story. The teacher will investigate and address the situation her/himself or will refer it to appropriate school staff. Do check back with your child’s teacher to see what steps have been taken to improve the situation.
  • DO: Support the school rule of “No play fighting.” This applies to pretend games involving fighting as well. They may seem innocent at the start, but often lead to real physical aggression. The rule is in effect at all times in the school building. Make sure your child respects this rule at drop-off and pick-up time.
  • Children are often fascinated or drawn to other children who are “mean” or “naughty.” This is unfortunate, but common. It is a form of testing that is part of growing up.
  • DO: Reinforce good sportsmanship. Teach your child that nobody always wins. Remind your child that professional athletes receive penalties for fouling or fighting.
  • DO: Be aware that there are most definitely consequences for physical aggression in school. However, keep in mind that these consequences aim to:
    • ensure that a child who is aggressive knows that safety is important and that s/he cannot participate in activities if s/he behaves unsafely; and
    • support the child who is aggressive in learning how to participate safely and peacefully
  • DO: Be aware that it is the responsibility of our school community to teach children, not to stigmatize them. A bully is someone else’s child and must grow and learn, as must all our students.

Finally, never, ever let your protective instincts lead you to bully another person’s child. This is a very poor model for our children. It teaches them that adults don’t follow their own rules!


Useful phrases to make sure your child knows

“Hands are for helping”

“Stop! I don’t like that.”

Safe adult