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Learning that one of our children is being bullied at school is something that we all dread as parents, yet it’s a sad fact of life for many of our kids.

According to the Bullying No Way campaign, one in four Year 4-9 students are bullied at least every few weeks in Australia.

Bullying today goes beyond mere schoolyard name-calling. It comes in many forms, from spreading nasty rumours online to harassment via texting. So what can you do as a parent to help your child work through this? Here are a few coping tips.

Dealing with cyber bullying

Students today not only have to deal with the traditional forms of bullying that we may remember from our own school days – cyber bullying is a new form of harassment to contend with.

Online bullying can happen anytime, even outside of school, which can leave children feeling unsafe and vulnerable.

It can take many forms, including the following:

  •          Sending cruel or abusive emails and text messages
  •          Posting nasty photos or comments on social media
  •          Imitating someone else online
  •          Excluding children from online social groups

To start with combating cyber bullying, it’s important to teach your children some basic rules of online safety. This includes keeping their passwords and personal details private and avoiding posting anything that they wouldn’t want others to know about.

So what can you do when your child is being bullied online? Strategies include blocking the sender and taking a screenshot of the evidence. Online platforms like Facebook and FourSquare bear some responsibility for nipping it in the bud.



Here’s a list of links where you can report abusive behaviour. Aside from this, you can also follow the suggestions below that also pertain to in-person bullying:

Understand why bullying happens

It’s easy to write off all bullies as monsters, but there are reasons why this behaviour is so common with young people.

Many bully their peers due to a lack of perceived power at home, low self-esteem, or other issues.

This report at bullyingstatistics.org lists a number of potential causes of bullying, ranging from a culture that glorifies violence to social and family issues. Bullying can start as early as preschool, with behaviour escalating in the teen years. While you don’t need to make excuses for playground bullies, trying to understand their motivation can help you work through the problem with your child.

Model assertive behaviour

One of the best things you can do for your child is to be a good role model at home; the way you behave in intimidating situations is something to think about. If you are easily pushed around by others and your child sees this, she won’t know how to assert herself either. Remember, she’s learning social skills at home. If you need help with learning how to be more assertive, qualifications like a diploma of counselling can give you a great set of skills to use and model.

Practice ways to be assertive

Practice this behaviour at home, with role-play situations. This will arm your child with some tools to use when bullies confront them. Teach your child how to say “no,” “stop that,” or “it’s my turn to play now.” Practice until your child feels confident and can stay calm.

Be aware of your child’s social skills

It’s unfair, but bullies tend to pick on the kids who maybe don’t have as many friends or don’t have the best social skills. You can build these skills from an early age, arranging playdates with other children and watching your child’s interaction. If you see areas where there is room for improvement, try role-playing again.

Emphasise that it’s ok to tell an adult

Ideally, when children are bullied they feel safe enough to tell an adult. However, this is not always the case.

Let your child know that it’s ok to walk away and tell a grownup if the situation gets too heated. Bullying can escalate if it’s not dealt with. Make it clear that you’re always available to talk, and get the teacher involved if necessary. But if your child wants a chance to work out it out without parental intervention, give them that chance first.

As a parent, it’s ok for you to speak to an adult as well. If there is an ongoing bullying situation that your child isn’t able to stop, you need to talk to the school to work out a solution.

Tell your child to keep a record of the bullying behaviour, so that you can pinpoint when and where it occurs. This will help your case should you need to get administrators involved. And if physical violence is either threatened online or carried out, it’s time to talk to the police.

Have you been through this with one of your children? How did you handle it? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • The first time my son was bullied, I told the classroom teacher. Nothing was done. Then when it happened again, I went to the principal. He said that he has no resilience and he has to stand up for himself. I enrolled him on a self-defence class. He used the techniques, and then my son was in trouble for using those techniques. Then I put him into karate, BBJ, MMA, boxing. He took his bully down, and we’ve never had a problem since. He is a gentle giant and hates confrontation, so we are trying desperately to find another school.

    Reply

  • Practice what you preach, teach your child to be a kind human

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  • So bad its terrible that this is still happening, I believe the schools need to step up more and stop this! The children that are the bullies need to be pushed out the school not the children getting bullied, I have herd this so many time a child leaving a school because of this nasty stuff it has to stop

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  • It is unfortunate that bullying is a part of life. We are just trying to provide enough support and guidance to our children that they can be honest with us about whatever may be happening and how they are feeling. There are some useful tips mentioned here that I will keep in mind if ever the need arises.

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  • I do not look forward to bullying my 3 year old is in preschool and the boys pick on her sometimes now and it’s so upsetting and to think it starts so young this article definitely has some great tips thanks

    Reply

  • Some good suggestions and pointers in this article.

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  • I hear martial arts is a great sport to get kids into as it gives them confidence, teaches them about respect and gives them a self-defence skill that they hopefully never have to use in life.

    Bullies sometimes deserve compassion, it can be a learned behaviour from adults or can be that the bully is trying to make themselves feel better. If your child has confidence and you teach them how to be assertive, hopefully bullying won’t be an issue for them.

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  • Bullying is a sad fact of life. It seems the more focus it gets, the worse it gets. These are good tips for mild bullying, the full on constant nasty stuff…..I’m not sure there’s anything that helps

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  • My biggest problem is knowing what is the truth and what isn’t. There have been some instances with my daughter when she has said things have happened between her and other kids and then when the teachers are questioned, no one seems to know anything about it. Although earlier this year we were able to nip one case of bullying in the bud.

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  • I always told my children that bullies were just trying to make themselves feel better & that they must have a lot of sadness in their own lives to want to treat people the way they do. As the years went on though I realised that a large portion of the bullying behaviour was learnt behaviour from older people around them. After meeting some of the parents I realised that they held themselves above everyone else and those attitudes had rubbed of onto their children.

    Reply

  • Our daughter was bullied in year one, we weren’t expecting it to start so young but kids can be mean! We made sure we spoke about it so she had the support and confidence to be able to deal with it and had the school move her out of the class to give her a break from the nastiness!

    Reply

  • My granddaughter in year 6 is still been bullied by kids that left for high school last year online. I keep telling her not to reply to them as they will stop when they can’t get her to react. sadly she fears High School next year but I’m hoping she chooses the one that is further away from them.

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  • Kids are horrible…I was bullied and it was such a tough time for me

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  • I was also bullied at school and that was back in the 60s and continued on until I went to high school I could not handle it so I left high school at a young age and worked

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  • These are all really good suggestions that I wish I had growing up. Assertiveness is one big one I’m going to be instilling in my child.

    Reply

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