Bullying is a topic that strikes fear in the heart of many parents. When our children are little, we are there for their every moment and are ready to step in when a child won’t share a bread stick or pushes them in the ball-pit at soft play. Part of parenting children when they get older, is providing them with the tools and teaching them the skills necessary to thrive without us by their side.
At Role Models, we are passionate about supporting children in their ability to face various challenges. We deliver a range of courses on topics such as confidence, resilience and problem solving. We aim to support children, and parents in developing ‘life skills’, enabling them to truly succeed.
According to the NSPCC, bullying is ‘behaviour that hurts someone else. It can include name calling, hitting, pushing, spreading rumours, threatening, or undermining someone’. Bullying can present in a variety of ways and situations. We have identified 6 key areas that bullying can be categorised into.
The first and most important step is to ensure that your child is aware that they can talk to you about these issues and that they are comfortable doing so. According to Childline, you should be available for your child to talk to about their worries and make sure they know where they can go to for support. You can start by dedicating time each day/week, to checking in with them and talking about their school life, friends and issues that are important to them. Make sure it is clear that this time is dedicated to them and is free from any distractions. If your child is reluctant/uncomfortable opening up, it may be easier to chat whilst playing Lego, going for a walk or doing a calming activity that your child enjoys. Model sharing your own thoughts and reflections with your child. Tell them about your day and how you feel etc.
It is important not to assume that your child will feel comfortable talking to you about being bullied. There may be a tremendous amount of shame surrounding what they are experiencing. Try to pay attention to signs such as loss of appetite, avoiding social situations, loss of personal items, unexplained injuries and general changes in behaviour and attitude.
According to a government paper on preventing and tackling bullying, every school must have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying. It is important that you communicate with the school and provide them with as much detail as possible. Remember, you are your child’s advocate and if you do not feel as though they are responding appropriately, be sure to press them on the issue and ensure you understand the ways in which they will support your child. According to Prevent, ‘reporting bullying is an effective way to stop the violence’.
This is very challenging as it can be incredibly painful to know that your child is being bullied. It is essential that your child doesn’t feel responsible for your emotions and can talk freely to you without worrying that they are overwhelming you. You also want to understand as much as possible from your child what is happening for them. It is therefore important that you create a calm and safe space for them to open up to you.
Being bullied can be a traumatising experience for a child. If your child is experiencing any mental health concerns, it is important that you seek professional help to support them. The first port of call can be your GP, who can signpost you to the relevant support. Providing children with emotional support and coping skills is fundamental to ensuring their mental health and wellbeing.
As mentioned above, navigating the complexities of growing up is something that we need to support our children with. Teaching them how to be resilient, how to communicate their feelings and how to respect their own boundaries are topics that we are passionate about at Role Models. It is fundamental that we give children the skills necessary to cope with challenging situations.
Discuss with your child about how they would handle a situation in which they felt they were being bullied.
This can include;
This will serve two purposes; your child will know that you are taking them seriously and that you intend to address the issue – even if you are not able to immediately. It will also enable you to gather information to potentially problem solve with your child or provide the school with necessary information.
There are always people willing to listen and support you when dealing with issues concerning bullying. Make sure you reach out and get support for yourself too – parenting isn’t easy and bullying is a very real and challenging problem to have to face.
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