When Your Child Is Bullied
It’s a situation so many mums and dads here on the east coast find themselves in. It’s tough when your child is being bullied at school. But you’ve come to the right place. ECR Life has all the help you need… We’ve asked east coast life coach Andrea Kellerman* for advice:Andrea says bullying is an increasing and serious problem in schools. Though it’s been around for decades, it seems to be getting worse and has recently begun to take different dimensions. The fact is that bullying is the most common form of violence in our society. It’s a situation so many mums and dads here on the east coast find themselves in. It’s tough when your child is being bullied at school. But you’ve come to the right place. ECR Life has all the help you need…
We’ve asked east coast life coach Andrea Kellerman* for advice:Andrea says bullying is an increasing and serious problem in schools. Though it’s been around for decades, it seems to be getting worse and has recently begun to take different dimensions. The fact is that bullying is the most common form of violence in our society.
Types of bullying
Andrea says there’re three different forms of bullying:
This includes teasing, name-calling and making threats.
This includes hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing and taking a person’s belongings.
This involves the spreading of rumours, manipulation of relationships and intimidation. Verbal and physical bulling are more common amongst primary school learners, whereas psychological bullying increases in severity in high school learners.
Andrea points out that between 15% to 30% of learners are bullied every day. In the US, the CIA says that two thirds of recent school shootings were committed by adolescents who were severely bullied at school. It’s therefore important that parents and teachers work together to stop bullying and help children experience a safe learning environment.
Often mums and dads don’t know what their children have to endure at school because the learners are too scared to be bullied even worse or to upset their parents if they talk to them.
Here’s what you can do
Andrea says parents need to:
- Look out for symptoms such as unexplained reluctance to go to school, sudden difficulty concentrating or doing school work, fearfulness or anxiety, getting upset easily, reoccurring headaches or stomach pain when the child has to go to school, nightmares or disturbed sleep or missing belongings. Ask carefully /tactfully how the child spends his/her break-time, what it is like getting to school and coming home and if there are other children who are bullied in school. If you hear that your child is bullied, stay calm, listen well and give your child time to explain the whole story and his/her feelings. Explain to your child that it is NOT his/her fault. Try not to overreact and get too upset in front of the child.
- Don’t try to minimise the situation either. Children need support and don’t want to hear: “Just ignore them” or “Don’t be silly, they’re just teasing”, or “Fight back”. Remember, hitting back doesn’t solve the issue. Moreover, children who’re bullied don’t have sufficient social skills to defend themselves. If they had, there’s a greater chance that they wouldn’t be bullied.
After you’ve learned that your child is being bullied, you need to think about your next steps carefully. You don’t want to make your child’s problem worse. Instead, you should keep a cool head and also discuss with your child what to do next. It’s helpful to write down all the incidences, make an appointment with the headmaster/mistress and the class teacher. Solving the problem means getting teachers, management, parents and children involved.
You can also do this
Andrea says parents can help the child to:
Make sure the school
- Learn how to avoid situations in which he/she is bullied. E.g. walk home with friends or an adult, stay with others during break-time or stay close to a place where teachers can see him/her.
- Learn how to report an incident so that it does not sound like “telling on”. E.g. really only report the serious incidents and don’t always go to the teacher if another child doesn’t want to share his crayons.
- Identify and encourage his/her positive attributes which will increase their self-esteem.
- Learn to become more assertive and stand up for his/her rights. Children need to learn to express their feelings and know that others do not have a right to hurt them.
- Learn how to adapt the body language to appear more confident, e.g. walk more straight up to appear more confident.
- Be encouraged to make new friends which will help to change their environment.
Andrea says parents should make sure that the school:
- Talks to the bully and his/her parents
- Increases adult supervision Identify and encourage his/her positive attributes which will increase their self-esteem. Monitors and offers support for the child who is being bullied
- Helps the bully to change his/her behaviour effectively
Bulling can be very hurtful, humiliating and frightening. Often children feel powerless to stop it. You need to help your child to deal with the situation and to heal.
Ask your child regularly how it’s going in school and during break-time. Follow up frequently with the school. Teach your child better social skills and show him/her their strong points. It can also be helpful to find a healing extra mural activity (self-defence classes, Boy/Girl Scouts, church activities), do something together as a family and VERY IMPORTANTLY: tell your child that you love him/her. Be strong, this can turn negative feelings into positive, pro-active actions.
Andrea Kellerman can be reached on 031 2660636.