Sticks and stones: HerFamily's guide to dealing with bullying
As a parent it is always important to have good communication with your kids, especially when it comes to their lives at school and their relationships with other children.
Schoolyard bullying is a common problem.
According to a study at Trinity College Dublin, up to 31 per cent of primary school students and 16 per cent of secondary school students are bullied at some point during their time at school.
Bullying can deeply affect children and be huge source of childhood stress, anxiety and depression.
Here's some advice to help you deal with the issue as swiftly and as calmly as possible.
Spot the signs
- It is best to always be on the look out for signs and behaviour that may indicate that your child is being bullied. Mood-swings, clinginess, anxiety and a loss of interest in hobbies may all be signs that your child is a victim. Naturally, bruises and signs of physical abuse are causes for concern but sudden loss or damage of property is also an indicator. If your child is pretending to be ill a lot or being difficult in the mornings before school, they could be having a difficult time with bullies.
Dealing with the issue
- Sit down with your child and ask them what is troubling them in school. Talk about bullying and how the term does not just mean physical abuse but also embodies verbal abuse, abuse on the Internet, exclusion from peer groups and extortion for money or other possessions. Recognise that your child may not want to talk about it but make it clear that you are always there to listen and help.
- If you suspect that your child is being bullied, it is important that you intervene. Arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher and express your suspicions. Enquire about the school’s anti-bullying policies and how they plan to put them into action in the case of your child. Teachers are well-used to cases of bullying and will be happy to help tackle the problem.
- Don’t allow your child to become physical with bullies. This will escalate and worsen the situation. Instead encourage them to confidently stand up to the bully without using bad language or insults.
- Build your child’s confidence and encourage their self-esteem in their home life. Praise them and encourage communication. Trust them with small responsibilities to build their confidence. If your child is having a difficult time at school, provide them with an escape from that. Sign your child up for other activities and hobbies where they might meet new kids and build up friendships. This will help to inspire confidence and self-esteem.