Help! My child is being bullied at school!
Bullying comes in many different types – physical which can be touching, punching or pushing, verbal which includes teases, name calling and psychological which includes spreading rumours or excluding your child from playground games and friendship groups.
Bullying no longer happens just at school, it can take place at other times using social media including nasty text messages and posts on Facebook. Because the bully is not facing your child, this form of bullying – ‘cyber bullying’ can be very aggressive.
Will my child tell me?
Many children do not admit what is going on at school and it is best to watch out for a few tell-tale signs. One of the most common is for a child who usually enjoys school to start saying that they would prefer not to go to school or begin to say they are unwell – usually with stomach ache. In older children, their unhappiness can lead to self harming.
Often a child’s performance at school can be impacted or maybe their friendship group seems to be suddenly shrinking. Does your child have unexplained bruises or is having problems eating or sleeping?
The most common place for boys to be bullied is in the toilets as these are usually in a block with a single entrance/exit, so nice and easy for the bully. Many boys in this situation start to avoid using the toilets to avoid giving the bullies the opportunity to torment. If you find your child is rushing to the bathroom every day when they get in from school, his could be a clue.
Sometimes a child will not tell their parents but may confide in a much-loved Granny or other family member, so it is worth sharing your concerns with them.
First of all, praise them for telling you and assure them that it was absolutely the best thing to do. Be very gentle in how you respond, an explosive parent is the last thing your child needs!
Ask them if they have told anyone at school such as their teacher. Get them to explain how they feel and support them by telling them that it is fully understandable to feel sad and confused. Explain to them that it is important that you quietly speak with their teacher as it is much better that you all work together as a team.
It is important to see your child’s teacher as quickly as possible and it is a good idea to make an appointment for after school has finished and everyone has left. This is the best method as the teacher will have time to give the problem their full attention. They are likely to be surprised because it is very unlikely that they know what is going on – bullies are clever like that.
Devise an action plan with your child!
Your child must feel in control of the situation. Ask them a little about the bully, why do they think he/she is a bully? Is it just with them or others? What does your child plan to do and how do they think they will react next time it happens? When you ask the last questions, it is a good idea to give your child some useful ways to deal with the situation because in such a stressful situation, it is likely they will not be able to think clearly.
Spend some time with your child practising these as you will be arming your child with confidence to tackle the situation. Role playing will empower your child and will give them the strength to reply to the bully in a strong voice – tears will only encourage the bully
Children need to understand that bullies have a need for power and control over others. They often lack sensitivity. With that said, it's helpful for children to use these strategies when dealing with bullies:
When confronted by the bully, teach your child to coolly and calmly reply – ‘leave me alone’ or ‘back off’ and calmly walk away.
Teach your child to hold their head high and to long strong– bullies are cowards after all. Your child should look the bully straight in the eye as bullies find this very disconcerting
Teach your child to question the bully – ‘I don’t like the way you call me names because I have a real name, Please start calling me by my name’
If the bully starts taunting your child by calling them names and saying ‘ you have to have glasses to see properly’, your child should look them in the eye and respond with’ ‘Yes, you are right and you have reminded me that I need to get my eyes checked’ and then to walk away very confidently.
Teach your child to be strong and not let the bully’s taunts get to them and not to reward the bully with tears.Ask each day when your child gets in from school, how the day has gone. If your child has successfully diffused a situation give them plenty of praise because this will bolster their confidence and remind them that the more they stand up to the bully and the more they show they don’t care, the quicker the bully will leave them in peace….
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