How to talk with your kids about bullies

(WTNH) — It’s time to go back to school, and experts say now is the time for parents to talk with their children about bullies.

Frankie Montes is living up the last days of summer with his sons; but school has brought outside challenges.

“My oldest one, he used to be bullied. He suffers from Autism,” Montes said.

Experts say 73-percent of kids know someone who’s being bullied.

“At my school, bullying does concern me, it happens often,” one student said.

Child expert Melanie Bland with the Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven says that even before your kids head back to class, have the conversation about bullies now. It’s best to address the issue before it happens.

As soon as they start to go to school, whether they’re attending school at 3 or at 17, the conversation of course will be different, but trying to prep them is definitely key.”

Bland says start by making sure your child feels special, important, and has a healthy dose of self-esteem.

“So when they are confronted they know from their parents maybe what they’re saying isn’t right. Mom told me I’m beautiful. I don’t know why they are talking about my hair.”

And if a child says something unkind to your kid, Bland suggests your kid responds like the old saying goes, killing them with kindness.

“I disagree with you. I still think you are pretty, I still think you are nice.”

And parents, Bland says empower your kids to stand up for themselves.

“It’s not okay for people to talk about you. It’s not okay for people to put you down. It’s definitely not okay for people to put their hands on you.”

Encourage your child to talk to you, and have that open line of communication.

But what do you do if other parents tell you your child is the bully? Again, talk about it with your child.

“Be careful of how you phrase the question. You don’t necessarily want to ask your child,  ‘did you do this’; because it kind of sets them up to lie. Instead say, ‘tell me about it’. You’re more likely to get to the truth.”

Experts say the signs of being bullied vary from child-to-child, but there are some consistent warning sings. Look to see if you child becomes withdrawn, spends more time isolated, or if they were social but now just wants to stay home. If they become more clingy to you or to another sibling, or if there is an increase or decrease in appetite.  Those signs mean it’s time to have a sit-down, or even a visit to the school.