Whether it’s unkind words or something much more aggressive, the fact is that children can be cruel. Bullying can leave deep emotional scars, effect self-esteem and confidence into adulthood and make your child absolutely miserable in the meantime. It is important for both you and your child to identify bullying and then break the cycle of behaviour.
Talk about it
Children often believe that saying nothing and dealing with a bully is better than talking about it and coping with the fall out. The truth is that coping with bullying is so much worse for your child than anything that comes with dealing with the problem directly at school. You can help your children to deal with bullying by encouraging them to talk openly, reassure them that you aren’t angry or disappointed if they are reluctant to talk and most importantly by emphasizing that it is not their fault.
Finding ways to get your child to open up about their issues can be as simple as discussing something similar on the TV. Using this as a discussion starter may give your insight into what is really going on. You may wish to share personal or family experiences, to show your children that bullying is not uncommon and that it is OK to talk about it openly. Perhaps ask an older sibling or cousin to gently speak to them in case they are nervous about discussing the bullying with an adult. An open and warm approach to discussing the problem is best with children of any age.
It’s not your child’s fault
Children often believe they are to blame and that they are being bullied because they don’t fit in or are different to everyone else in some way. Explain to your child that sometimes other children bully because they are insecure or frustrated, and that most of the time the bully’s unkind behaviour has nothing to do with them at all. Praise your child and reassure them that it is the bully who is behaving badly – not them, will help them see that they are not at fault. The next step is to contact the school, be it the principal, school nurse or a teacher. Alerting someone at school who can monitor the behaviour or have a chat with the child in question means your child will feel more self-assured and comfortable in school.
Teach them to avoid or ignore the bully by buddying up with a friend. Encourage them to express their frustration in a productive manner in order to avoid angry outbursts and further confusion. Emphasize to your child that you are there to listen to them no matter how big or small the problem may be. Most importantly emphasize that there is no shame in talking about bullying and that sometimes they may have to be brave and walk away. Restore their confidence by encouraging time spent with friends, taking part in group activities or sports or just by listening. There is no one-size-fits all approach on how to handle bullies or bullying, but taking it seriously is key to putting a stop to it. Working with the school and listening to your child’s needs will help get them back on track in school and happier in the home. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Family support is vital to ensure your child’s confidence grows and that they learn how to deal with difficult people for the future.
Disclosure: This post has be written for MuddlePuddle and we have received compensation for publishing.