When Parents Should Get Involved in Kids’ Issues
Expert advice on 7 common situations, so you'll know when to meddle and when to stay mum.
4. Another kid is bullying your child on the playground.
Should you butt in? Not immediately, unless your child’s safety is at stake. “If you’re there, watch closely and give your child a chance to
solve the problem on her own,” says DeBroff. The same goes for school: It’s better first to equip your child with skills to
stay safe and empower her to resolve the situation on her own.
How to handle it: Rehearse ways for your child to respond. For example, if your child has a sense of humor, she can use a retort like “No,
I’m not a baby, but thanks for asking,” spoken in an assertive tone of voice. Otherwise, she can employ a strong “Cut it out”
before walking away. “Have her practice standing up straight, chest out, like she’s wearing a bulletproof vest that taunts
bounce right off of,” says Borba.
When to reconsider: If the bullying persists and your child feels threatened, get involved. If you are the one intervening on the playground,
nonchalantly pull your child out of the situation (snack time!) before discussing it. Talking to her in front of the bully
could be more embarrassing. If the bullying is at school, ask a teacher to keep an eye out. Most schools take bullying seriously―39
states have laws addressing it―so teachers should have practices in place. To learn more, check out stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov, which has suggestions for both parents and kids.
5. A teacher gave your child a C, but he thinks he deserved an A.
Should you butt in? Intervene only if your child will take part in the conversation with the teacher. “If you believe your child’s points are
valid, say you’ll make an appointment with the teacher but that he’ll have to make the case,” says Busey.
How to handle it: Have your child ask the teacher why she gave him the grade she did. “Hearing the feedback from the teacher will help him
fine-tune future assignments,” says Busey. Helping your child line up his arguments beforehand is a great way to teach him
how to constructively approach a disagreement.
When to reconsider: If your child is prone to misreading or incorrectly copying down instructions, make sure you have the whole story before you jump to conclusions. A stellar report on blue whales is less so if the task was to write about smaller mammals of the sea.