Discovering your child is being bullied is a parent’s worst nightmare. If you suspect your child is being bullied, read on to find out what steps you can take to help…
No parent wants to see their child upset, which is why dealing with bullying can be incredibly difficult, for both parent and child. As parents, it’s our job to protect and nourish so when bullying is an issue we often feel as if we have failed in some way to keep our child safe from harm. It’s a highly emotive situation, which can make it difficult to know how to react, what to do, and who to reach out to for help.
Learn To Spot The Signs Of Bullying
Firstly, you need to establish if your child is experiencing bullying. If your child has opened up to you and told you about the situation already then that’s a great start. Be sure to acknowledge that talking to you will have taken a great deal of courage on their part and assure them that you will do everything you can to help them.
It may be that you simply suspect bullying at this stage or that your child is unwilling to talk about it. You may have noticed a change in your child’s behaviour or have seen or heard something that makes you suspect bullying is happening. Signs to look out for include, but are not limited to:
- Becoming quiet and withdrawn or prone to mood swings and angry outbursts.
- A reluctance to go to school.
- Missing belongings.
- Appearing upset after being online.
- Changes to their diet or health (such as tummy aches or headaches).
Talking To Your Child
It can be difficult to get a child to open up about bullying. They may be feeling scared, ashamed or embarrassed to talk honestly about what’s been going on. They may even feel as if they might get into trouble or will face negative consequences by speaking out. Try to talk to your child in a quiet, familiar place where they feel safe. Offer constant reassurance that you are there to support them and reinforce that you will do whatever you can to help. If they still won’t open up, try not to take it personally. Suggest that they talk to a different family member about their worries or a trusted teacher in a bid to get them to speak out.
If they do start to talk, try not to make any emotional promises at this point as you may say something you will later not be able to enforce or provide. For example, saying something like, “I’ll have those bullies expelled from the school” and then later discovering that the school would prefer to follow a different outcome could lead to frustrations further down the line and lead to a sense of disappointment from your child that you have not, in some way, fulfilled on the promise you made to keep them safe.
Keep your cool, however difficult that may be, and focus on reassuring your child, explaining that you may not have all the answers, but that you will certainly do everything you can to help make things right.
The most important thing you can do is to listen. It can be tricky to keep your emotions in check, but your child needs you to listen without getting angry or upset. Listen to your child carefully and reassure them that they are not at fault. Ask your child questions like, “How would you like me to help you with this?” and communicate with them on a mature level to discuss ways in which you could possibly resolve the situation. The worst thing you can do is to make knee-jerk reactions in the heat of the moment, such as ringing up the school in a confrontational manner. Your child could resent you for this and worry that this will only make the situation worse. Your child needs a calm, compassionate reaction and the comfort of knowing that you will communicate honestly and fairly with them.
Click here for more advice on dealing with bullying.