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Hearing that a child is being bullied can be heartbreaking for parents. However not all conflict between children is bullying.
Bullying is where an individual or a group use their personal power repeatedly to cause physical, social or emotional harm to another. Usually the person being bullied feels powerless and unable to stop it. Bullying can take the form of verbal or physical aggression and social exclusion. It can occur face to face and online.
Let’s look at what you can do to help child if they are experiencing bullying
What are some first steps?
For some children, telling a parent that they are being bullied at school can be hard. The child may be worried about how their parent’s reaction. They may fear that they are about to get into trouble or worse still, that the parent will do something to make it worse! Listening (as calmly as you can) to your child then becomes the first step in helping them with bullying. Your aim is to help them tell the story. After which you can then reassure them that they are not to blame and that you are not angry at them.
As parents our first response is often about protection. We want to leap into action to sort the bullying out and make sure it never happens again. Our solutions though may not be what the child needs. Before we jump in its important to ask what solutions the child has thought about and also what they have tried. A classic mistake here that parents make is the “all you have to do is ignore them” suggestion. Usually the child has tried this already and for various reasons, has found it didn’t work.
A careful and considered response is always helpful. There are many different ways to help children with bullying. Fortunately, there are also lots of online sites with different strategies that you can look up. A personal favourite is the Bullying. No Way! website. Not only is it an Australian website but it also captures what the research tells us are helpful responses. I’ve included the link here for you:
Bullying needs to be reported to schools too. This is often something that children feel very uncomfortable about as they are scared about the consequences. Schools however have the responsibility to keep your child safe and can’t do this if they don’t know what’s happening. Request a time to meet with the teacher to talk through what you’ve learned and how the school will respond.
What else can you do?
Keep monitoring what’s happening with your child. Often bullying will die down for a while only to start again a little later when the adults aren’t paying attention. If this happens, schools need to be brought into the loop again. Children who bully others try very hard not to be caught in the act so sometimes it can be missed by teachers.
Keep reading up and sharing different strategies with your child for them to try. Older siblings can be helpful here too as they may have some great ideas here too. Avoid strategies that escalate conflict such as the “fight them back” idea. Not only will your child be in trouble but this strategy rarely works.
Need more help?
Our psychology team is able to help in this area. They can help children with ways to increase their own safety and better ways of managing bullying (both face to face and online). They can also help parents and work with teachers to put in place more helpful strategies.
For more information about our psychology services please call reception on 9274 7062. Below is a link to our website with information about our psychologists and more: