How To Help Your Adopted Child Stand Up To Bullies

It's important to advocate for children while also empowering them to address bullying issues on their own.

Amy Harmon October 11, 2016
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The effects of bullying are clear: Children who are bullied have increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Whether it is size, intelligence, friendships, or adoption, bullies will look for anything different to attack. Parents can often feel helpless when their child is a victim of bullying. Here are a few ways to help intervene.

1. Talk to the school/parents.

I recently heard about a situation where a teenager was brutally bullied on a bus. There was an adult present, as well as a driver. They were both oblivious to the situation. It was clear that there was not enough adult supervision to ensure the safety of the youth on that bus.

Parents can help by insisting that safety be made a priority. Schools must be held to a high standard of supervision. Having a no-tolerance policy on bullying is a start, but it will only matter as long as it is enforced. Not all bullying happens at school. Talking to the parents of the bully can be helpful in some situations, but don’t be afraid to escalate the discussion to law enforcement if necessary. Unfortunately, some parents have taught their children bullying behaviors. If this is the case, law enforcement or legal action may help to mediate severe circumstances.

2. Support your child.

Children who are bullied often feel isolated from peers and may feel ashamed of themselves. Show them love and encouragement. Help them to recognize their strengths. Help them to accept others for their differences and be excited about their own unique traits.

Ask open-ended questions. Go beyond asking your child, “How was school today?” Ask questions like, “What was hard at school? What was easy? Did you feel comfortable at school?” Although some children just don’t feel comfortable talking about bullying, these questions may help to give them a forum for discussion.

Encourage your child to limit social media and electronic devices. Cyber bullying has become a new and rampant challenge. Many people make comments online that they would never say in person. This can be mediated by maintaining access to your child’s text messages, social media accounts, and email.

3. Empower your child.

This step is different from offering support. This is the step that will allow your child the opportunity to face this challenge head-on. When your child develops skills to actively stand up to bullying, they will increase in confidence. Teach your child to stand up strong, speak up, and remain calm. Many people want to let their child deal with the bullying themselves. This is only effective when the child is given the tools they need to respond. Help them to know they have a right to feel safe. They have a right to ask for help. Teach them to avoid returning hurtful words and teach them to get help quickly.

Adoption bullies have been around for ages. There has been a long-standing script about children who were adopted. Being an advocate for your child and empowering them to stand up to bullying is an essential lesson for every child. How have you helped stand up to adoption bullying? What skills have you taught your child?

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Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon lives in Kansas with her husband and two boys. Each child was a miracle; the first through adoption and the second through IVF. Her family is her passion, but in addition to that she is an RN, pianist, avid reader, slow jogger and an adoption advocate.


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