Home >  Blog >  How you and your child can cope with bullying

How you and your child can cope with bullying

Posted by Dr Kathrine on 8 January 2014

Here is the second article on how to cope with bullying written by Dr Kathrine for Drynites Australia. They have asked me to share them with you. I was very happy to do so, please let me know if you are finding them useful as they have many to share. www.drynites.com.au.

Spotting the signs

Children can go to great lengths to hide the fact that they are being bullied.  They may do this because they are embarrassed or believe if they tell someone the situation will only get worse.  So how can you tell if your child is being bullied?
Keep in mind not all children who are being bullied will show warning signs and some of these behaviours may also be indicative of something else going on in your child’s life:

  • Look for changes in behaviour, an outgoing child who becomes withdrawn, a child who had achieved nighttime continence may start wetting the bed, or changes in eating habits
  • Increase in aggressive behaviours or bullying of siblings
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Increase in physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or pretending to be sick so they can stay home from school
  • Lost or destroyed property
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem
  • School avoidance or lack of interest in school work
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Reduced social contact with friends or loss of friendships

What should I do if my child is being bullied?

  •  Find out as much as you can about the situation (who is involved, how often it occurs, who knows about the bullying) then reassure your child that this is not their fault (bullying can be like a form of brainwashing where children begin to feel that they some how deserve what is happening).
  • Contact the preschool or school.  Ask to see the bullying policy and get the school to clearly outline how the situation will be managed.  Ensure that there are regular follow-up meetings until you have reached a positive resolution.
  • Get your child involved in activities that encourage independence, assertiveness and healthy peer relationships (e.g., sporting teams, cubs or scouts, dance, drama club).
  • Encourage your child to behave assertively in threatening situations by teaching them specific skills such as responding to name calling (having ready and rehearsed responses is always helpful), making assertive statements (“That’s fine if you think that but I do not agree”), and getting help from their peers (it is important that children feel they have someone who they can count on).

Encouraging your child to stand up for others

When victims of bullying do tell someone, it is most often their friends, followed by their parents, with teachers often being the last to know. Children who are witnesses to bullying are referred to as bystanders.  Bystanders have three main roles, they can assist and encourage the bully (bully assistant), they can passively watch the bullying (witnesses), or they can actively intervene to support the victim and try to stop the bullying (defenders).  Bullying, when confronted with a caring and responsive peer group is significantly reduced.

How can you better prepare your child to help and support victims or bullying? 

  •  Discuss with your child what they think bullying is and get them to think about how the victim feels when other children are mean to them.
  • Consider what forms of discouragement would be appropriate without making the situation worse or putting your child at risk.
  • Rehearse or role-play possible bullying scenarios.
  • Discuss how your child may get other children to show their disapproval with the bullying.
  • Talk about safe and unsafe situations, helping you child know when it is important to involve a teacher.
Author: Dr Kathrine
About: Dr Cathrine is a Childhood Development Expert, Researcher and lecturer at Macquarie University. www.drcathrine.com
Tags: being assertive bullying parenting tips anxiety stressed children getting along