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Solutions for bullying

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.

mom and kid talking on the bed

What is bullying?

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.

  • Physical bullying – This is what is commonly associated with bullying. It can be anything from pushing, and shoving, to more aggressive forms of physical assault.
  • Verbal bullying – This bullying is aimed to demean, embarrass, and belittle. Traditionally, this sort of bullying is what children were told to ‘just ignore’. We now understand that this form of bullying must be taken seriously, and support must be given to children who experience this.
  • Relational bullying – Also considered to be emotional bullying, this can include social manipulation, sabotaging social connections and social standing, ostracizing, and spreading rumours. The aim of this type of bullying is to increase ones own social standing by sabotaging others.
  • Cyber bullying – This includes making threats, sending hurtful messages and posting hurtful images and information. This has been a growing issue as children have increased access to social media and can access it privately and anonymously. Through cyber bullying, people feel more confident saying things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Similarly, this type of bullying doesn’t stop when a child gets home from school.
  • Sexual bullying – Repeated, harmful and humiliating actions targeting someone sexually. This can include name calling, crude comments, uninvited touch etc.
  • Prejudicial bullying – This is bullying based on prejudices based on race, religion or sexual orientation.

What can you do?

  • Encourage an open and communicative relationship with your child

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.

  • Pay attention to warning signs

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.

  • Get the school involved

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’.

  • Remain calm

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.

  • Seek the help of a professional

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.

How to support your child

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.

  • Talk to your child about bullying

Discuss with your child about how they would handle a situation in which they felt they were being bullied.

This can include;

  • making eye contact with the bully, and in a firm but calm tone, telling them to stop
  • encouraging your child to be assertive, but not aggressive
  • telling a trustworthy adult
  • not being alone – bullies tend to pick on people when they are alone, so encourage your child to be around people as much as possible
  • Encourage your child to keep a diary

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.

You might like these resilience and collaboration themed courses

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