Coping with Bullying

One of the most distressing worries for any parent is that their child is being bullied at school.

Do not ignore bullying. It will not go away and is more likely to get worse than better. It may start as something minor, but it is easy for it to escalate into something more major. Therefore taking action early can make a big difference.

Tips for if Your Child is Being Bullied

Bullying at school is a very common problem. Bullying does not just take the form of physical violence. Emotional bullying takes place in the form of name-calling, teasing and ignoring. Both forms of bullying can be equally upsetting for the victim often leading to depression, low self-esteem and poor academic performance.

1. Signs of Bullying

Look out for these signs to see if your child is possibly being bullied:

. Become withdrawn and lacking in confidence

. Becoming aggressive, maybe towards their siblings

. Your child is frightened to walk to and from school or uses a different route

. Continually losing pocket money or possessions

. Poor academic achievement

. Feeling ill in the mornings to avoid school

. Unexplained injuries

2. Watching Behaviour at Home

Out of the list above the first two items are most likely to be the initial indication that something is wrong. The first one is probably not all that surprising, but it is easy for parents to misinterpret aggressive behaviour in the home.

You child may find it very difficult to talk to you directly about being bullied. Therefore their anger and frustration can be expressed in totally unexpected ways. Often it results in a previously passive child becoming angry and aggressive. If a child starts making statements along the lines of "you just don't understand me" it is usually a sign of a problem in their life that the are finding difficult to talk about. Often that problem is being bullied.

3. Talk to Your Child

If you suspect your child is being bullied then you should tackle the issue with them directly, ask them what is happening and try to offer advice based on your own experiences. Most people have been bullied at some point in their lives.

Even if you think what is happening is minor, don't dismiss it. If it is bothering your child it is certainly not minor to them. This is especially true if has reached the stage of changing their behaviour in the home.

4. Communicate as Much as You Can

If you ask your child straight out whether or not they are being bullied they may or may not be truthful with you. Bullying is not always an easy subject to talk about.

It is important to keep general lines of communication open as much as possible. The more you talk to them about not related issues, the more likely they will feel comfortable enough to open up and talk to you.

Therefore do everything you can to keep the lines of communication open between you.

5. Offer as Much Support as You Can

Although you probably have a busy life of your own this is a very important time for giving your child as much support as you can. Even if your child is a somewhat surly teenager try to compliment and praise them as much as you can. They may not thank you for it, but inside it will mean a lot to them to have someone on their side.

6. Who Should You Talk To?

Depending on the age of the children involved you may be tempted to talk to other parents about it, especially if you know them well. Although you can try this approach you may be surprised at the response you get. Some parents refuse to believe that their child could be a bully. Some parents have bullying tendencies of their own. So you can find approaching other parents can even make the situation worse.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. But tread carefully and be prepared to not get the support you thought you might get.

7. Talk To Your School

Before bullying goes far you should talk to your child's school. Schools should take any repots of bullying very seriously. They have a duty of care towards your child. Every school will have a policy for dealing with bullies. If the school is unaware bullying is taking place then they won't be able to stop it. Your child may be one of many who is being bullied but is the only one brave enough to speak out. Therefore your positive actions may prevent the bullying of other children in the school.

8. Avoiding Bullies

If your child is being bullied advise them to stay away from the bullies. If they can find a group of friends to be with at playtime and on the way to and from school it can be a big help.

This may not be as easy as it sounds and it may involve changing routes to and from school.

From my personal experience bullying took place outside of the school on my route home. I walked two miles home each day to avoid a bully who was on my shorter (one mile) route.

9. Acting With Confidence

This may be one of the hardest things to do, but it is one of the best ways to reduce bullying. Bullies want a reaction. When they don't get one they are far more likely to stop and move on to and easier target. The more your child can find the inner strength to brush off a bully the more likely it is the bullies will leave them alone.

If your child is being emotionally bullied teach them to ignore name-calling and teasing and explain if they stop reacting to the taunts the bullies will soon get bored.

10. Building Confidence

As mentioned above acting with confidence is hard if you don't have any. Building your child's self esteem is the best long term method to stop them being a victim.

Get them involved in out of school activities. Anything that they can develop skills in can make a big difference to how they see themselves. As they build their self esteem this has a knock on effect on how other children see them. Encourage your child to take up activities that will increase the respect other children have for them.

If a child is lacking in confidence you may find that the last thing they want to do is try new activities that they may fail at. Therefore they may need cajoling and encouragement.

Confidence can be raised and bullying can be beaten. There is not usually a magical overnight solution. As with not things in life it can take time. Therefore don't put off taking action.

No child or adult for that matter deserves to be bullied.

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