Ask Abbie: Daughter getting bullied at school

Published 11:51 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

by Abbie Long

Question: My sixth-grade daughter is confronted by a bully at school every day.

The bully has not inflicted physical harm, but for instance, knocks over her lunch tray and writes on her clothes during class.

She hates to go to school, and it’s actually making her sick.

I want to step in, but she begs me not to because she thinks the kid will get meaner.

Why is the bully targeting my daughter? What should I do?

Answer: A combination of small, large, pure breeds, mutts and all varieties in between are happily chasing tails and marking their territories at the park. Each new dog arrival is met with an immediate sniff to assess its type of behavior.

These behaviors will range on a scale from passive insecurity to full blown aggression. In the middle of this scale is calm assertiveness or unwavering, not overly emotional behavior.

Aggressive bully dogs can sense a passive dog’s insecurity. Insecurity signals weakness and easy target for them to attack.

On the other hand, when bully dogs sense calm assertiveness, it signals a dog’s strength to remain unaffected by their potential attacks and a decision to leave these difficult targets alone.

The basic behavioral tendencies just described apply also to those of humans.

The ability to remain calm and assertive throughout any confrontation results from internal confidence and security. How would you describe your daughter’s sense of confidence and security? How would you describe that of your own?

You must ensure your energy always represents that which you desire for your daughter because children instinctively tend to adopt behavioral tendencies from their parents. For example, an overprotective worrying mother often has unconfident worrying children while an angry aggressive parent often has bully children. The more objective and non-defensive you remain throughout your evaluation, the more you will be able to help your daughter through her difficult situation.

Even though bullies will always bully, and the schools, along with other parents, cannot be relied upon to correct bad situations 100 percent of the time, you must start helping your daughter to build her internal confidence through your own actions and reactions.

Redirect her thinking in a more positive direction. Reassure her being bullied is not her fault as it was not the fault of the preyed upon dog at the park. Reinforce her positive qualities, uniqueness and unlimited potential beyond imagination.

Her transformation into a confident calm assertive young lady will likely take time for her repetitive bully wounds run deep. Be patient. Her breakthrough is on the way!

With your daughter’s newfound strength in place, stage a couple of scenarios with her at home to see how she would handle various attacks. Play the part of the bully while coaching her through the process.

Another way to help prepare your daughter for the school bully is to set up a “graffiti” party day. Use fabric markers to create amazing graffiti wear for school. Invite a friend if you like.

Should the bully decide to contribute to the clothing’s art, have your daughter pull out the markers, smile and ask the bully if he or she would like a new color.

For the lunch tray issue pack some empty spill proof containers in a separate bag. As soon as she gets the tray have her put everything in the containers and then into the bag. Should the bully approach, have your daughter drop the bag on the floor before the bully can touch it. Oh well! Better luck next time.

Watch as the bully naturally moves on to weaker more easily emotionally affected targets. At that point you are free to make school officials aware of the bully’s potential to hurt other children without concern of jeopardizing your relationship with your daughter.

With your help, your daughter will transform from being a preyed upon target to being the one in charge of the hunt. Protected by her new bulletproof vest of calm assertiveness she will remain forever unharmed and fully equipped to defend and to deflect any bullet, I mean bully, who comes her way!

Abbie Long is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to