As a parent, it is extremely difficult to watch your child experience bullying. The first and most important step is to identify that bullying is occurring. Keep lines of communication open with your child and encourage honesty. This means that when you ask how their day at school was, they should feel safe to reply honestly. However, if you feel as if your child is keeping the reality of their school experience from you, there are other ways to ascertain the soundness of their mental health. This includes observing their demeanour, their enthusiasm to attend school and extra-curriculars, or talking to their teachers.
Once you have concluded that bullying is occurring, try to discern what type of bullying it is. Bullying in schools can take many forms, from playground antics to online posts. The type of bullying will determine how to work alongside your child to get the behaviour to cease. If you feel that your child’s safety is at risk, contact the school and any additional authorities immediately.
When talking to your child about strategies to combat bullying, encourage them to act unimpressed and uninterested. Bullies are looking for a reaction, so remaining unaffected can discourage this behaviour. Talk about what we know doesn’t work with child bullying, including fighting back, bullying the bully, ignoring it, playing with a different group of friends and remaining silent about the problem. If the bullying is discriminatory, for example targeting race or religion, involve the school immediately. As a parent, set the example for your child that prejudicial bullying cannot be tolerated by acting firmly and as soon as possible.
Unfortunately many children will experience bullying in some form during their school lives. The most important thing that you can do is to teach them resilience and how to ask for help. If children are loved and supported in their home lives, they will be equipped with the skills to combat adversity in their school lives. Of course, outside help such as therapy can similarly be a vital tool to help children.
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