Bullying can happen anywhere your child has relationships: sports teams and interest groups, social events, within the family and of course at school. We look at the steps parents can follow if their child is being bullied.
“Given your child spends a majority of time at school, it is the place where they are most likely to be bullied. If your child is being bullied, the first approach is to empower them to put a stop to it”, says Cliff Battley, Clinical Psychologist and author of ‘How to Bully Proof Your Child’.
We asked Cliff to give us his top 5 things a parent should do if their child is being bullied.
First, listen and take time to show them you understand. You are aiming to help your child open up about the bullying without fear of you overreacting or judging them. Allow your child to tell their story. Do everything within your power not to interrupt. Your aim is to collect all the information you can, so as to get a clear understanding of exactly what is happening. Find out where and when the bullying is occurring, and the names of those involved, including any witnesses. If you need more information, allow them to retell the entire story at their pace, even if most of it is repetition. Be patient here. It is essential you remain calm, supportive and caring while listening.
2) Have A Conversation
Next, have a calm conversation about what you have heard to check that what you are hearing is the same as what they are saying. You are likely going to be experiencing anger, frustration and a host of other uncomfortable feelings. Do not let them show! If you do, you will only serve to intensify the discomfort your child is already experiencing. Being bullied is a traumatic experience. Telling your parents, and worrying they will overreact, can be extremely challenging.
3) Stay Calm
You are going to remain calm and do everything within your power to reduce their fear. If you do, you may likely find they continue to come to you with their issues in future. Your child should feel that talking about being bullied is both safe and right.
4) Give Support
Now offer support. Remind your child they have every right to feel frustrated, fearful, angry and hurt. It is absolutely normal they should be feeling this way and makes total sense. Tell them it is never okay to be bullied and they have a right to feel safe as do all people. It is also helpful to remind them that bullies do this on purpose and that while they do it, your child’s feelings will not disappear.
5) Ask Your Child What They Would Like You To Do?
Finally, ask your child, “What would you like to happen now?” Most children will say they want the bullying to stop but they don’t know how this can be achieved. They fear if the bully is punished then things will get worse. At this point, they may not wish for you to contact their school. The situation may be minimal enough that some sound parental advice might end the bullying.
What would be your advice for parents who find out that their child is being bullied? Tell us in the comments below.