BULLYING: What To Do And How To Help Your Child
Childhood bullying can be particularly difficult to tackle as it can be subtle in nature and therefore harder for adults to detect.
Bullying is (usually) repetitive and bullies typically use a variety of means to scare or establish control over other children. It can range from hurtful statements, to verbal threats, social isolation or rejection.
Here are some tips on what you should you do if your child is being bullied:
1. Listen to what your child is telling you
Your son or daughter may wait a long time before telling you that they are being bullied or intimidated. Children are often afraid that they will get themselves or another child into trouble, or feel embarrassed or ashamed about their situation. Initially, the most important thing you can do is listen attentively without offering advice, dramatising or trivialising the situation, or making judgments. Allow your child to express their own thoughts and feelings on the issue and try to hold back on coming up with immediate grownup 'solutions'.
2. Don't say:
"Just ignore them"
"Don't let them see you upset over it"
"You should have done X, Y, or Z"
"Next time they say that tell them..."
"You'll have to toughen up and/or defend yourself more"
"It's a disgrace that your teacher has done nothing about this - I'll have to sort it out"
3. Do say:
"That doesn't sound nice, tell me more about it"
"How did you feel about that when it happened?"
"How do you feel about it now?"
"It's okay to cry, I would be upset too if that happened to me."
4. Keep calm and carry on (together)
- Once your child has opened up to you about what's going on and the emotional dust has settled, it's important to reassure them that they do not have to tolerate any form of bullying. Tell your child that you will find a solution together.
- Resist the temptation to approach the other child yourself in order to defend your son or daughter.
- Your first step should be to communicate (as calmly as possible) with the school, or with the parents of the other child if the behaviour is occurring elsewhere.
- Practice confident postures and firm looks together, as well as short, punchy, or funny verbal 'comebacks' that your child can use to respond to his or her bullies and to gain confidence.
- Bullies are more likely to target shy, quiet, or more reserved children. Talk your child through different ways to make new friends (how to approach others, suggest a game etc.) and invite children over to your home for playdates so that you can keep a close eye on proceedings and intervene gently if necessary.
Have you had to deal with a bullying situation? Let us know about your experience and how you dealt with it in the Facebook comments.