How to talk to your child about bullying

Children may find it hard to talk about bullying, read on for advice on how to discuss the subject... Because of his or her disability, your child may be bullying, be bullied or react violently to other people’s reactions. “I got a call from the head. The other parents had complained that my son had threatened their children. The head had tried to explain to them that he was autistic but the parents said that their children were no longer allowed to play with him in case he threatened them again.”

“My child dealt with bullying by swearing at them. The school responded by punishing him – not for standing up to the bullies but for swearing.”

Some children may find it hard to talk about it and may not respond well to direct questioning. You may not want to ask them straightaway if they are being bullied, but rather ask questions about their day, see if their behaviour has changed, how they’re feeling and give them time and opportunities to talk to you about it. If your child has difficulties in explaining what is happening to them and/or communication difficulties, you may need to use different ways to communicate with them.

how to talk to your child about  bullying

Try to explain that bullying is behaving in a way that upsets someone and that this can affect other children so badly that they don't want to go to school. If the bullying involves physical abuse like hitting or kicking, recall a time when your child was upset because they were hurt and explain that this is how someone else feels when they are attacked.

Ask your child how he/she would feel if someone was behaving like this to him/her and what he/she would want to have done about it.

How to deal with a complaint about a younger child

  • Tell your child calmly what they are accused of and ask for an explanation
  • Ask the head teacher if your child is the only one accused of bullying
  • Ask the head teacher what strategy he/she can introduce to deal with the problem
  • Explain to the child that if he/she calls people names, deliberately hurts them or takes their friends away this is bullying and not fun
  • Ask if supervision can be stepped up at the time the bullying is said to be happening
  • Ask to be kept informed of further complaints or behaviour problems

Questions you can ask a younger child

  • Who are your child's friends and what does he/she like about them?
  • What does your child think about the bullying victim?
  • Is your child is afraid of anyone else? There is often a ringleader and children go along with him/her because they are afraid they may be the next target if they don't
  • Has he/she dropped old friends and got new ones?
  • What games do they play at school and who decides who can join in?
  • Could your child be upset because of a change in family circumstances, separation, bereavement, a new baby?
  • If your child being bullied as well?


How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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