Here's some strategies to help your child tackle bullying in ways that are safe and constructive!
4 October 2015| Last updated on 22 October 2018
Is your child being bullied at school? If so, it's important to take action as quickly and as effectively as popular to prevent bullying causing any worsening physical or psychological health, depression and self-worth over time for your child.
Early intervention is key, and although schools are doing more and more to help students nowadays, your role as a parent is crucial, and it's never too early to start a conversation about bullying.
To help you, here's some strategies to help your child tackle bullying in ways that are safe and constructive!
Teach your child to always respect others
A strong sense of self-respect, with a basic respect for others, can really help your child to avoid and/or prevent bullying in the long-term. To help your child reach that strong combination of the two, you can implement the following methods.
Affirm their traits and uniqueness
This can be achieved by playing role-play games such as "I am someone who...". Introduce fun, unique and personal traits into the game, for example, state "I am someone who enjoys music", or "I am someone who enjoys to colour". By doing this, the game teaches your child to value their own unique traits, while also building self-confidence and a positive attitude about their differences, and other people's differences too.
Be a positive role model
Understandably, a child's behaviour often mimics that of a parents, so by ensuring that what actions you take are positive helps to show them to be a positive role model themselves. After all, actions speak louder than words, and so allowing your child to observe what you do is more important that what you might say.
For instance, always say please and thank you, be friendly to people of various backgrounds and help to reinfoce affirmative behaviours for your child to develop of their own.
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Read affirmative books
When it comes to story time, read books that hold encouraging messages about difference and respect with your child, and then discuss these themes with your kid. This will also help you help them learn to read, too!
Ways in which you can prevent bullying
Sit down with our child and come up with a range of solutions to help them stop bulling before it happens or escalates. Build and prepare with them a toolkit of ideas for them to use in tough situations, or when it can be hard for them to think straight.
Encourage positive behaviour
To do so, help your child to grasp positive body language, help them to learn tricks that will make them a less inviting target... Show your child that it's okay to hold their head high, and embrace their confidence. You could also practice making sad, brave and happy faces with them, and tell them to switch to their "brave" face if they feel they are being harrassed.
Create a list of responses
Practice phrases that your child can use to tell someone to stop bullying behaviour and keep them short and precise; they'll help your child to feel better prepared. Teach them to speak in a strong, firm voice - but not in an antagonistic way. Phrases like "leave me alone", "back off", "that wasn't nice" or even "yeah, whatever" will help your child to nip any bullying behaviour in the bud and stop it from escalating.
Role-play "what if" scenarios
Role-playing is a terrific way to build confidence and empower your child to deal with different challenges. You role-play being the bully, and let your child practice different responses until they're confident enough to handle troublesome situations.
Make sure there's an open line of communication
As a parent, you should check in with your children every day to see how things are going at school; be calm, be friendly and create a nurturing environment in which they're not afraid to tell you if something's wrong. Emphasise to them that their safety and well-being is very important, and that they should always reach out to an adult if any problems arise.
Take action to stop any bullying
Help your child to learn how to make smart choices if ever a bullying situtation appears, and how they can and should take action if they feel hurt or see another child being bullied by others.
Encourage your child to be an "upstander"
By being an upstander, we mean that your child can take positive action when they see a friend or another student being bullied. Ask them how it feels if someone else stands up for them, and discuss how one person can make a difference.
If your child shares with you how they've defused a harasser, let them know that you're proud of them and their positive actions. Likewise if you witness another child stand up to a bully in a public place like a park or a playground, point it out to your child so they can copy that approach.
Report repeated, severe bullying
if your child doesn't want to report the bullying, go with them to talk to a teacher, a guidance counsellor, principal or school administrator. You yourself should be familiar with the school's policy on bulling, document any instances of bullying and keep records... Keep on top of the situation by following up with the school to see what actions are being taken. You can also take advantage of any community resources available that can help you deal and stop with bullying, like the police or a therapist.
Is your child the problem?
If it is your own child who is the one teasing and threatening another child or children, it is up to you to take action right away - not just for the sake of those being bullied, but also to prevent them behaving in such a way in the future.
If you're unsure, there are some warning signs you can keep an eye out for:
- They're impulsive, and can get angry quickly
- They hang out with other kids who behave in an aggressive way
- They take out their frustration by hitting or pushing other chlidren
- They have difficulty understanding how their actions can affect others
- They get into trouble at school frequently
If any or some of the above criteria can be used to describe your child, as a parent you can help practice techniques to help them control their behaviour; such as taking deep breaths or counting to ten. This will help them to calm and collect their thoughts in an instance that is stressfull for themselves and their anger.
When you see them hurting another person in a harmful way, tell them to stop, remove them from the situation and then talk and explain with them how they should handle the situation better next time.