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by Jodie Lynn

Even though there are only a few weeks of school left -- bullies are hot in the neighborhoods, child care facilities and camps!

Question: How should I tell my child to handle bullies?

Answer: I hear this question all the time, even for children as young as kindergarten age. As frustrating, they're in every classroom and neighborhood.

Here is what NOT to do:

- Don't advise your child to hit back. It could be more trouble than what it is worth. An eye for an eye is wrong.
- Don't talk directly to the bully yourself. It only makes matters worse.
- Don't make light of a situation. Bullies always know when and when not to approach another child. Even if an adult doesn't see them, if your child says it happened, it probably did.
- Don't look the other way. If you catch a bully in action, give a stern look to send a message that something will be done. If you have been notified that your child is the bully by the school, don't refuse to believe it. Talk directly to the teacher.

Here are some tips on what to do:

+ Do listen to what your child has to say.
+ Do teach your child to first use all measures of assistance and reason to stop the bullying behavior.
+ Do tell your child that it's a good idea to involve an authority figure: a parent, bus driver, teacher and so on, especially if the bullying involves physical assault.
+ Do enroll your child in a karate class to build self-esteem.
+ Do take taunting and hitting seriously.

Unfortunately, bullies will always be around. Because of this, you will want to talk about the best way to handle various situations. Teach your child that it is not silly to voice his or her concerns. When the occasion arises, talk and role-play with your child. Let your child be the bully during role play.

Find out where and when the bullying is taking place. Who is around? What is happening? These questions will help you gather details and help your child shed some of the emotions he is feeling.

Signs that your child is being bullied:

* Torn clothes.
* Slipping grades.
* Upset stomach before school.
* Requests for more lunch money.
* nability to sleep at night.

Many schools have implemented programs to help alleviate the stress and challenges that fighting and bullying can cause students, teachers and parents. If your school doesn't have a program, ask for one.

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