- Ensure that you make yourself available for your child to share their experiences and feelings. Do that by reminding your child regularly that you love and care for them and that you will support them through issues that they may face.
- You can start by saying “Tell me about it” and listen attentively. This helps you to know what is happening and gives your child a channel to release his or her emotions first. After your child shared his own hurt and pain, you can find out about the facts of the bullying incident.
Questions to ask are:
– When and where did the bullying happen?
– Who was involved?
– How often does it happen?
– When did it start?
– Were there any witnesses?
- Praise your child for being brave enough to talk about the bullying incident and reassure your child that it is not his or her fault.
- Do not minimize, rationalize, or explain away the bully’s behaviour. If you do, you are inadvertently telling your child that she or he really is in this all alone.
- Do not encourage your child to fight back.
- Encourage him or her to be assertive instead of being aggressive. Kids who respond assertively to the bully are more likely to successfully counteract the bullying than victims who try to fight back.
- Unless in serious physical danger, do not rush in to solve the problem for your child. In doing that, it will only convey to the child that she or he is really helpless, and to the bully that the child is really vulnerable.
- Help your child to help himself or herself
- Encourage your child to be assertive and to steer clear of dangerous situations.
- Teach your child to speak up for himself or herself. You can practice this with your child at home through role play or using hypothetical situations.
- Help your child explore options, analyse choices and eliminate those that will make the situation worse.
- DO NOT confront the bully or the bully’s parents alone. They may become defensive and uncooperative, and may push the blame to the target.
- Report the bullying to school personnel (Principal, Teacher or School Counsellor). The school needs to know about the bullying incident – the date, time, place, children involved, and specifics of the incidents and the impact on the child.
- Work with the school immediately to make sure your child is safe. Effective consequences are applied towards the bully and that monitoring at school is adequate.
- If the bullying happens to and fro school, arrange for your child to get to school with older and supportive children till further interventions can take place.
- Encourage your child to make new friends
- Encourage your child to explore and develop his or her own potential. Bullying affects a child’s self-esteem and one way to change that is to focus on his or her potential (academic/ artistic/ athletic).
- Instill confidence in your child. Establish good social skills in your child by being a good role model. Correct or adjust your child’s social behaviour.
- Through role play or using hypothetical situations to help your child explore options, analyse choices and eliminate those that would make things worse.
- Encourage the victim to get help from the school counsellor if necessary. Provide support by accompanying the child to see the school counsellor.
Note for Parents:
Isolation, rejection, ostracizing or shunning can be much more difficult to deal with than physical or verbal bullying. At the time of your child’s painful exclusion, any suggestion it make new friends may not register. However, do patiently encourage your child to discover that there are other people who are trustworthy, with the capacity for being true and loyal friends.