Someone is acting like a jerk toward your daughter or son. How should he or she respond? Hopefully it is assertively but not aggressively. Wikipedia states “assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.” What does this look like though? I say be firm but not rude. For example, someone just called Sally fat. She can firmly say, “Don’t talk about me that way. I don’t like it” or “It’s not okay to talk to me that way.” Note she does not need to defend herself or call any names back. Roleplay doing this with your child. I also suggest using the tips from Teaching Our Kids (and Ourselves) How to Handle Anger to calm down before telling the peer to stop. When we are initially angry is when we all tend to say things we shouldn’t.
If the behavior continues, there are a few options.
Your child could walk away and not give the person the satisfaction of seeing her upset. She could then go talk it out with a friend or trusted adult.
Your child could also report the behavior to the adult in charge and let them handle it (hopefully). If your kid feels like she would get more harassment for doing this, see if there is a way the kid making fun of her could be caught doing it. For example, if Johnny always calls Sally fat in the lunch room, see if the lunch monitor could stay in the area and really pay attention to catch him.
I want to stress that your child calling names back or resorting to violence/threats will result in your child receiving consequences. I say let the other kid be the guilty one!
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!