Seeing your child hurt is one of the hardest things we go through as a parent. We race to kiss the sore spot, apply a band-aid, wipe the tears away and generally make it all better.
But in the case of emotional pain, it’s just not that simple. And that’s what makes dealing with bullying so tough. The good news is that bullying is handled far differently today than it was no so long ago.
It used to be seen almost like a ‘rite of passage’, something to be endured because it would toughen us up for the real world. However, today Australian schools recognise the long-lasting impact that bullying can have and are implementing processes and procedures to support the parents and victims of bullying.
7 signs your child may be the victim of bullying
Bullying is repetitive, deliberate, and hurtful behaviour. If your child is being bullied, there’s a chance that they may not tell you.
Here are some signs to watch-out for:
- signs of anxiety – like headaches, tummy aches, tearfulness, or panic breathing
- not wanting to go school or feeling sick in the morning
- becoming upset, withdrawn and unhappy
- losing self-confidence
- not doing as well at school
- feeling left out and bad about themselves
- getting nervous about using the internet or their mobile phone
If you notice any of these behaviours in your child, start a conversation. Check-in and ask whether there’s anything going on at school? Is anyone being mean to them? Are they happy in their class?
If they start talking, you can find out exactly what’s happening. If not, don’t give up – keep asking questions. It’s important that they feel comfortable to open up to you.
Your child is being bullied – what now?
If your child tells you they’re being bullied, it’s important that you listen carefully to them and tell them it’s not their fault – and it’s certainly not ok. But first tell them how proud you are of them for telling you, it’s the first step in standing up for themselves.
It can be a good idea to write down anything that your child tells you about the bullying – having specific notes can make it easier to see a pattern and to report it to the school.
When you’re talking to your child try to find out:
- what’s happening
- why they think it’s happening
- who’s involved
- when it started
- where it happens
- when and how often it’s happening
- who saw it
- if it’s repetitive
- how they’re dealing with the bullying
- how it’s making them feel
When should you contact the school?
At the first sign of a repetitive pattern contact your child’s teacher or school principal. Bullying is totally unacceptable, so it’s important that they know what’s happening. It’s likely that the school will have a plan in place to prevent bullying, and how to deal with it when it does happen. There’s some great information on recommended school policy and procedure here – https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/
As a first step, email your concerns to your child’s teacher or school principal – it’s good to have these things in writing.
Your email should include:
- The reasons you think bullying is involved – the behaviour is repetitive, deliberate, and hurtful.
- Explain exactly what is happening to your child, how it’s making them feel when it’s happening, and who’s involved.
- And finally, ask to meet with the teacher as soon as possible
How can you support your child?
Just like when your child gets physically hurt, there are things you can do to “kiss the sore spot, apply a band-aid, wipe the tears away and generally make it all better”.
Sure, it’s not half as easy as fixing a grazed knee – but your actions can go a long way toward helping your child cope with what’s going on and to help them feel better.
- reminding them constantly it’s not their fault and that they don’t have to put up with the bullying
- encouraging them to speak up every time any bullying occurs
- keep the lines of communication open – talk often about what’s happening at school
- teach them techniques to improve their confidence and to help them deal with any bullying
- helping them to practice these techniques – role-playing
- making notes of any more bullying behaviour
- reporting any bullying to the teacher or principal each time, until things improve