Warn coach about potential bullies

  • By Heidi Stevens Chicago Tribune
  • Friday, July 6, 2012 5:45pm
  • Life

Problem: Your daughter earned a spot on a high school team with two girls who bullied her in the past. Should you warn the coach, or hope this is a new beginning?

Answer: There’s a way to intervene that will offer your daughter a new beginning and put the coach on alert.

“It’s all in the parent’s presentation,” said clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg, co-author of “Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual.”

“You don’t want to present your daughter as fragile, but by all means you want to give the coach a heads-up in a very subdued and casual manner.

“It’s all about offering a little protection, but not in an anxious way.”

This benefits your daughter as well as her coach.

“The job of the coach is to not only teach them to play the sport, but also to be a cohesive team that plays well together,” Greenberg said. “If you casually mention to the coach to keep an eye on those players, she’s going to get a lot better teamwork if everyone is getting along.”

Your daughter, whether she admits it, probably is in need of an advocate.

“There’s a real tendency for teenagers to have this secret wish for their parents to step in and help, but they won’t tell you that because it’s so unacceptable within teen culture,” Greenberg said.

“It also gives your child the message that you are not clueless, and you’re looking out for them in the best possible way.”

Best to give your daughter a heads-up that you’re talking to the coach, either before the conversation takes place or shortly after.

“Tell her in a very calm and casual manner, just like you’re going to approach the coach,” Greenberg said. “It’s likely to give her a tremendous sense of relief because bullying is so painful.”

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