ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Being picked on can trigger feelings of shame, so approach the subject delicately. “You never want to ask directly, ‘Are you being bullied?’ because it can be embarrassing,” says Dr. Bermúdez, who advises asking indirectly by using words like “annoyed,” “frustrated” or “bothered.” “You can ask ‘Is anyone making you feel uncomfortable or worried about going to school?’”
TEACH THEM CONFIDENCE
Bullies go after those they perceive as weak, so teaching your kids positive self-esteem can make a big impact in how they handle the situation. According to Dr. Bermúdez, “Latinos, especially children who are immigrants, are taught humility, deference and respect,” all qualities that need to be balanced with “assertiveness, ethnic pride and positive social interactions.” She suggests a simple role-playing session in which the parent is the bully: “You can have your child say things back like ‘You’re not allowed to treat me that way’—just saying those words out loud will make them feel stronger.”
SHOWER THEM WITH LOVE
Getting bullied can be emotionally taxing for both the child and the parents. Letting your son or daughter know that you have their back and will support them no matter what will help them feel stronger and more secure. For Kastas, this has made all the difference: “I tell my son every day that no matter what the kids say at school, he will always be loved by us. It helps him feel better because he knows he has his family,” she says.