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Bullying: Building a Child's Self-Esteem

British Columbia Specific Information

Bullying can happen in all kinds of situations. It can happen at school, as part of a sports team or club, or in your neighbourhood. Bullying can be physical, verbal, social, or even happen online. Regardless of what type of bullying is occurring, or where it is happening, recognizing bullying and what you can do to stop it are the same. Visit the BC Government – Bullying & Violence web page for information about keeping kids safe from bullying, what bullying looks like, how to know if your child is bullying or being bullied, and how to make bullying stop.

You may also call the Youth Against Violence Line toll-free at 1-800-680-4264 or email them at to speak to a Youth Against Violence Support Worker 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, visit the Youth Against Violence Line website.


Children who are socially withdrawn, shy, and appear to lack self-esteem are more likely than other children to be targets for bullying. Children who appear confident and strong are better able to discourage children from harassing them.

Parents and other important adults in a child's life can use these suggestions to help boost a child's self-esteem:

  • Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports or drama, which can raise a child's confidence and sense of mastery. Sports, in particular, also help build strength, which can level the imbalance of physical power between children. Some children may prefer individual sports (such as karate, gymnastics, and swimming) over group sports (such as soccer or baseball). Drama classes can help children project strength and confidence, even if they don't feel it at first.
  • Help children become involved socially with other children through school, church, or community activities. This way, children will build social skills and learn to be at ease with others. Children who have friends and "hang out" with them at school are less likely to be targets for bullying than lonely children who have no social support.
  • Role-play with children to show them how to appear confident and how to handle encounters with children who harass them. Help children learn to look people in the eye and to speak with a strong voice—but not shout—when talking to would-be bullies.


Current as of: October 20, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Frederick P. Rivara MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics