Your child comes home from the park crying. “What’s wrong?” you ask, inspecting her for broken bones. “A girl there,” she sniffles, “She called me ugly.”
While this type of response is common among kids, who often have yet to develop the ability to cope with verbal barbs, you don’t have to just accept this potentially exaggerated upset. Instead of continually wiping away the tears and doing nothing else, help your child thicken her skin to improve her ability to handle emotion-inducing attacks.
Praise your child often. For your child to grow that thick skin, she needs to sincerely think that she is a good, beautiful, smart person. Help her develop this positive sense of self by continually praising her positive attributes. With your ever-present praise ringing in her ears, she likely won’t even hear the insults.
Encourage your child to consider why. Remind your child that people who say mean things often don’t mean them. Tell her that the boy who said she smelled may actually be saying this mean thing because he is uncomfortable and maybe even -- gasp -- likes her. The next time your child comes to you sobbing, ask her to think of a reason why the insulter may have said something so mean.
Teach your child to be compassionate towards mean kids. Once your child realizes that there is likely something behind these insults, she can build her compassion. Ask your child to think about how sad the person being mean to her must be to feel that he has to be that mean, suggests EmpoweringParents “Warrior Mom,” Darah Zeledon. When your child thinks of this mean person not as an aggressor but instead as a sad and scared peer, she will feel less intimidated and upset by these attacks.
Give your child an opportunity to talk about her emotions. As your child becomes more immune to these verbal attacks, you may assume that the harsh words make less of an impact on her psyche. Don’t make this mistake. Just because your child isn’t showing that she is upset in the same fashion she previously did doesn’t mean that the words don’t sting. Ask your child about her feelings regularly, giving her a positive outlet and a supportive shoulder.