Let them know that you want to help and will do all you can to stop it. Be clear that for the bullying behaviour to stop, it will probably be necessary for their school to become involved. Encourage your child to talk about it and what has been happening. It will help if they keep a journal in which they can write about the bullying behaviour and record when and where it happened and who was involved. Click here to download a copy of our ‘bullying behaviour incident log’.
If your child seems reluctant to talk, it is okay to ask gentle ‘open’ questions to help you find out more information. Ask questions such as, “What happened? Who was involved? How did that make you feel?” to draw your child out. This will enable you to find out more about the bullying behaviour and what has been happening to your child. You will also be able to understand more about how they are feeling. Try to remain calm and listen to your child in a non-judgmental way. As a parent, your instinctive response to your child opening up might be to give way to your thoughts and try to solve the problem. Let them do the talking and try to refrain from interrupting. Honoring their voice and ownership over their experience can be very empowering for them.
Once your child has finished sharing what has been happening to them, take a moment to absorb what you’ve heard. It may be painful, heart-wrenching, or it may leave you feeling infuriated. Remain calm and discuss, with your child, what steps they want to take next.
Your child may tell you that they want to try and deal with the bullying themselves. If they do, discuss some strategies with them and set a short period of time to see if they can resolve the situation. Coping skills can help children deal with bullying situations.
Encourage your child to:
Practice some strategies at home with your child to help them to:
A confident, positive and resilient appearance can stop bullying from continuing.
Discuss what doesn’t work with bullying:
*Do not encourage your child to fight back with the other child. Fighting with the other child can escalate the situation and your child may be reprimanded for their part in a fight.
Make an appointment to see your child’s teacher as soon as possible and explain what has been happening.
Remember that coping with something like bullying is very stressful. Try and take time for yourself and talk things over with a friend or member of your family.
At BulliesOut, we run free, virtual sessions for parents and carers titled ‘Understanding and Exploring Bullying’. Please visit our training page for further information and dates.
Bullying can have harmful and long lasting consequences for children. In addition to the physical effects of bullying, children may experience emotional and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. If not treated, they can lead to substance abuse and decreased performance in school. Unlike face to face bullying, online bullying can reach a person anywhere, at any moment. It is devastating and can cause profound harm, as it can quickly go viral, reaching a wide audience and leaving a permanent digital footprint online for all involved.
Talk openly and frequently to your child about feelings, emotions, kindness and of course, bullying behaviour. The more you talk to your children about these things, the more comfortable they will be telling you how they feel or if they experience unkindness or bullying. Check in with your children daily and ask about their time at school and their online activities. Talk to them about their class work and activities, and also about their feelings.
Whether your child is being bullied or is bullying someone, connecting with a counsellor may help your child’s healing process. We know the thought of going to a counsellor may worry your child at first. If that happens, talk your child through the different options for resources and remind them that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. In fact, it builds a stronger sense of self.
Through fostering open and honest conversations about bullying behaviour with your child, you will instil confidence in them, empowering them to stand strong for themselves and others and to trust you to help them along the way.
Young children may struggle to talk about emotions and feelings that are part of everyday life. Using books and stories can always help with this. Wonderfully written by Author, Clare Luther and aimed at children aged 3 – 8 years old, Head 2 Heart Books are beautifully illustrated rhyming books that are relatable and well researched. Each story will help children explore their thoughts and feelings, offering them useful ways to think their emotions through and get conversations started.