No parent likes to think about their child being bullied or, even worse, being a bully but the fact is, more than half of all children are involved – either as a perpetrator, victim or witness. So, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with it at some point. If your child is being bullied, please see our do's and dont's.
- "Listen without getting angry or upset," says Sandra Hiller, Family Lives. "Put your own feelings aside, sit down and actually listen to what your child is telling you – then show you have done so by ‘playing back’ to them what you hear. Ask your child: "How do you want me to take this forward?" rather than just taking over so they don’t feel excluded from deciding what to do or end up even more stressed/worried than they were already.
- Reassure your child it’s not their fault. There’s still a stigma attached to bullying and some children feel they’ve brought it upon themselves. Remind them that many celebrities have been bullied too.
- I didn't know where to turn. Now I have a voice and I want to use it to tell kids who are being bullied that the fault is not with them. Be honest, don't be embarrassed, get help, and speak about it. Being bullied isn't about being weak and being a bully isn't about being strong.
- Don’t charge off demanding to see the head teacher, the bully or the bully’s parents. This is usually the very reaction children dread and, according to ChildLine’s counsellors, can cause bullying to get worse.
- "Never tell your child to hit or shout names back," says Sandra Hiller. "It simply doesn’t solve the problem and, if your child is under-confident (and most bullied children are) then it just adds to their stress and anxiety."
- Never dismiss their experience: If your child has plucked up the courage to tell you about bullying, it’s crushing to be told to "sort it out yourself" or "it’s all part of growing up."
- Don’t tell them to ignore it, warns Lyndall Horton-James, Bullying Prevention Education Consultant and author of 'Raising Bullywise Kids'. This only teaches them that bullying has to be tolerated, rather than stopped – and sets them up for further bullying in the future.
These videos from www.parentchannel.tv offer helpful advice from parents of children affected by bullying:
Bullying 5-9: the signs - Look at some the signs to be aware of that will allow you to support your child if you think they are being bullied.
Bullying 5-9: the advice - Look at some of the ways you can help your child to handle the situation, and what you can do to resolve things if your child is being bullied.
Bullying 9-14 - Take a look at some of the different types of bullying, including online ‘cyber-bullying’ – with tips on how to resolve the situation