Give them your timeHaving a non-judgmental, calm ear that they can talk to, whenever they feel the need, is the most important thing you can offer to your child when they’re being bullied. As a parent, your instinct will be to sort the problem out, to fix things. That is not what your child needs at first. Make it clear that you are there for them and encourage them to speak to you every day. Reassure them. Let them know that whatever they are going through is not their fault and that together you will sort it out.
Give them an outletWhen you have been bullied, you start to feel as though everyone is against you. It is hard for you to recognise happiness and joy in your life. Encourage your child to write things down. By asking them to keep a diary, you are helping to serve two purposes. Firstly, it becomes easier to keep track off the bullying incidences and monitor for escalation. But more importantly, it can really help us show our children that even in difficult times, goodness exists. Let your child know that the diary is for their eyes only, but do take the time to talk to them about what they have written and to talk about their experiences, good and bad.
Give them some coping strategiesHelping to build your child’s confidence by giving them tools and techniques they can use when they’re being bullied can really help them take some control back. This is important to prevent them from feeling powerless. Talk to your child about where to go and who to speak to when they are feeling vulnerable and need to escape. Help them to identify five people who they can go to if they are worried or concerned – this list should include people both inside and outside school.
Give them some assertiveness tipsWhen you are being bullied your self-confidence takes a real battering. Unfortunately this can sometimes leave you more vulnerable and an ‘easy target’ for bullies. Coaching your child – through role playing – to be more assertive, will really help them to build back their confidence. Show them the difference that positive body language and eye contact can make when dealing with others and help them appreciate when to stand tall and when to remove themselves from a situation.
Give them some ‘off’ timeNowadays, we live our lives online. Cyber bullying is becoming increasingly common among teenagers and it’s especially hard for people to escape. As parents, we need to take control. Make sure your child has some ‘off’ time at home to switch off, particularly around bedtime. Work with your child to monitor their social media and take screen shots of anything that you deem inappropriate.
Remember – and always remind your child - that bullying can happen to anyone, at any time. It is not a reflection of the person. If you’re worried that your child is suffering, this previous blog on bullying will help you spot the signs: http://firstpsychology.blogspot.com/2014/11/beat-bullies.html