What Should You Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied?
Updated: Jul 25, 2018
Friday, March 23, 2018
The thought of your precious one being ill-treated by another child or adult is painful.
No parent would like to think that their child is being bullied. However, in reality, more than half of children at school going age gets bullied. Statistics from UNICEF show that 80 percent of primary school students have been bullied.
That’s a scary fact for any parent to hear.
As loving parents, it’s always important to be aware of the signs and know what to do if your child is being bullied.
Three is not always a charm
However, just before that, we would like to highlight that bullying is not just limited to physical abuse or harassment. Bullying is divided into three forms:
1. Direct bullying - This is a form of direct contact physically, verbally or both. Examples of direct bullying includes assault, shoving, verbal attacks and teasing.
2. Indirect bullying - This form of bullying is usually carried out behind the victim’s back with aim to humiliate the victim or tarnish his/her reputation. This includes spreading rumours, playing nasty jokes and pranks and encouraging others to stay away from the victim.
3. Cyberbullying - Its name is self-explanatory, cyberbullying is a form of bullying in the digital world. Bullies use technology such as messaging, social media and emails to intimidate, humiliate and shame victims.
If your child is a victim of bullying , do not blame yourself for being a ‘bad’ parent or your child for being ‘weak’.
See also: Are You Unknowingly Raising a Bully?
What’s most important is for you to focus on how to cope with the situation and help your child during this fragile stage of life.
#1 Be the pillar of strength
Bullying will affect your child’s self-confidence and he/she might find it difficult to open up. Be encouraging and let your child know that you are there for him/her at all times. Do not force your child to speak up if he/she is not ready as your child might result to hiding under a shell out of fear and intimidation. There are a few steps that you can take to help your child express his/her emotions. This includes using tools such as:
Painting or drawing to express his/her mood and feelings instead of words;
Helpful children’s books that are focused on helping bullied children and understanding their emotions;
Seeking help from a child psychologist.
#2 Be the listener
When your child has decided speak up, listen with love and an open mind. Do not make judgements and immediately conclude that your child did something wrong and therefore bullying was a consequence. Even if you’re feeling upset, put your feelings aside and be there for your child. Avoid asking questions such as “What did you do to upset these kids?” or “Did you start it first?”.
Instead, listen to everything your child has to say and provide your child with unconditional love and support during this difficult time. Your child is most likely blaming him or herself already for everything that has happened and hence, definitely do not need you to rub salt onto an open wound.
#3 Be the one to identify a helping hand
It is no secret that most of the time, bullying takes place during school hours and it’s unavoidable that your child spends a large portion of his/her day at school. Help your child feel safe in a bully-prone environment by identifying a person (ideally a teacher) whom your child can go to if help is needed. This should be a person whom your child can trust. Your child needs to feel safe and by knowing that there is someone nearby whom will be able to help him/her, can help to ease the situation.
Create a safe zone
Bullying is an issue that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet or taken lightly. All forms of bullying are equally harmful and can lead to long-term emotional stress.
Even if your child is just starting to show some signs of being bullied, it is important that you address it immediately.
It is also important for you to provide a safe space for child to turn to. One that is filled with unconditional love and healthy communication for your child to open up to.
Be an active listener and spend quality time with your child such as by reading books before bedtime which also gives you a wonderful opportunity to discuss about important matters.