Starting from November 13th, Anti-Bullying Week is a special week dedicated to raising awareness of bullying and helping parents and children learn useful ways to prevent bullying throughout the rest of the year. The theme of this year’s campaign is, ‘All Different, All Equal” and is all about celebrating the things that make us unique.
If your little one has experienced bullying in any form, here are three top tips to make things better:
Listen and Talk
The most important thing you can do for a bullied child is listen. People often dismiss bullying as a ‘strengthening’ experience or something that’s simply ‘all part of growing up’ but in reality the traumatic effects of bullying can stay with a child into adulthood. It takes a lot of courage to admit you’re being bullied so make sure you appreciate that and listen to everything your child has to say. Make sure they know that there is no stigma to being bullied and that it is in no way their fault.
Once they’ve told you everything, try to talk with them about how they feel and how they want to proceed. Some children might not want their bullying to be reported; in this case, you can give them some tips to make things better such as how to ignore bullies or appear more confident than they are. Teach them that ignoring bullies and showing them you don’t care what they think is a much more effective way to get them to stop than retaliating. However in some cases, such as when bullying turns violent, ignoring bullies isn’t always possible and you’ll need to seek support from your school or even a counsellor or doctor to help your child deal with any stress or anxiety that might develop.
Rather than getting angry or upset and storming into the school – or worse, round to the bully’s house to confront their parents – try to get support in a calm way that will be helpful to your child. First, find out and write down as much information as possible, including dates and specific instances of bullying as well as the names of the children involved. Then, make an appointment with your child’s school specifically to discuss the issue. Most schools will have an anti-bullying policy or counsellors who will be able to advise you and put together a plan to help your child going forward. After this, stay in touch with the school to ensure the plan is being implemented – remember to be patient though, bullying is a complicated and difficult issue and often takes time to resolve. If this is the case, make sure that your child knows they are supported and free to talk to you at any time throughout the process so you can keep an eye on their wellbeing until the problem is resolved.
No one wants to hear that their child is a bully and it can often come as a shock to find out that our child has been anything but friendly to their peers, especially if they show no indication of bullying at home. If the school does get in touch to say that your child has been bullying others, try not to react angrily. Find out exactly what has happened and, If necessary, take some time to calm down so that you can talk to your child rationally. The good news is that there is often a clear reason why some children bully others that can usually be resolved; some may have been bullied themselves or experience insecurities that make them lash out at others. Talk to your child about why they have behaved the way they have and lay out the consequences they will face should they continue. These don’t all have to be punishments, it’s also helpful to point out the social consequences of being a bully. If the bullying continues, it might be that your child is experiencing emotional or mental health issues – in this case counselling may be the best option to help them deal with the reasons behind their bullying.