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Social and Emotional Skills

Bullying – ideas to help

Give the child ways to feel confident in defending themselves. Your child could learn a martial art such as judo or karate, making sure the child knows this doesn’t mean that it should be used to fight others but to give them confidence in knowing they can defend themselves if needed.

As a parent what can you do?

Why do bullies bully? They want to establish themselves as a part of the group. Some bullies may have been bullied themselves and this allows them to be accepted by their peer group.

Talk it through with the child. However anxious you may be feeling, try to take a gentle approach when talking about bullying with the child. Take any allegations of bullying seriously.

Reassure the child that help is available and that this is not something they should face alone. Let them know that what has happened is not their fault. Say that you will have to talk to the school, but you will not rush in and cause a scene; let them know that you will talk to the teacher about not identifying the child and that you’ll find ways to keep them safe from the bullies. Discuss possible solutions with the child and, even if some of the ideas seem unrealistic, talking them through can help you think of different possibilities.

Try to get as clear a picture as possible from the child as to what’s been going on: who has been doing the bullying? Where and when? How often? Anyone else involved? Any witnesses? And did they tell anyone?

Make notes afterwards and start your own Bullying Report that will be useful when you talk to the school. Further incidents can then be added.

Tell the child that bullying is not acceptable behaviour and you will do what you can to help get the bullying stopped. Sometimes a child may deny or not recognise that the behaviour they are dealing with is bullying. Tell him/her that bullying behaviour includes threats, damage to personal property, verbal abuse and racist or sexist name-calling. It also includes being ignored and being left out of games or sports.

Discuss with the child what sort of help they think they need and ways to keep safe, e.g. ways of steering clear of the children who bully, or staying with another child or children at break times (safety in numbers) or not taking special possessions into school. If you fear for the child’s mental or physical safety, you may decide to keep them off school until the matter is dealt with. Legally you must send the child to school regularly, so you will need a sick-note from your GP to keep them off school.

Encourage the child to keep a journal in which they can draw pictures or write about the bullying – this can help to release painful feelings and will be a record of what happened and when. By its nature bullying is rarely a one-off.

Tell the class teacher or head of year about your suspicions.

Check there is an anti-bullying policy in the school.

Speak to the parent-teacher association about procedures – prevention is better than cure.

Adopt the no-blame approach, and talk about the school doing group work with the classes, and about talking to the children about the problem. This allows the pupil to come up with solutions to prevent bullying occurring.

Encourage the child to improve their self-esteem and social skills; encourage them to be an expert in an area, so that they can gain kudos from their peers.

Believe the child.

Go through with the child how to respond in an intimidating situation, so that they are prepared and have the answers ready.