12 Nov 5 Tips to Overcome Bullying
What do you do if your child, who previously was joyful and happy about school, now is often sad and irritable. What do you do if your child discloses to you that they have been bullied and are now terrified to go to school? As a parent, when your child discloses that they are being bullied, you may experience a wide range of emotions including anger, fear, and maybe even confusion. How do you respond? Whether or not you know for certain that your child is being bullied, your involvement in the situation is critical to a positive outcome. The following tips may help you effectively support your child who is experiencing bullying.
Listen. If your child discloses bullying to you, the most important thing you can do is listen. Allow your child to express their thoughts and feelings about their situation freely. Remain calm and attentive and resist the urge to respond emotionally or make immediate suggestions. Summarize to your child what you are hearing and express empathy through statements such as, “That must have been really difficult for you.” Validate your child’s feelings and encourage them to continue talking.
Praise. Show your child that you are proud of them for disclosing their experiences with you. Use statements such as, “This must have been hard for you to talk about, thank you for opening up to me about this.” or “You are brave for telling me this, can we figure this out together?” Explain that they did the right thing by telling you that they are being bullied. Positive reinforcement will allow your child the chance to feel good about their decision in telling you, which will increase the chance that they will tell you more in the future.
Empower Your Child. As parents, protecting our children is one of our highest priorities. But, unless the situation calls for immediate intervention, refrain from solving the problem for your child. Offer your support and if you have an older child ask them how you can help. Use guidance to allow your child to make their own decisions in a safe and meaningful way. Practice assertive responses with your child and teach them how to advocate for themselves when they are seeking support.
Tell the School. Request an appointment to talk with the staff at your child’s school, specifically your child’s teacher and the principle. Let them know about your concerns and to support you and your child through the issues that are occuring. Be receptive to feedback and prepare yourself to hear different perceptions of the situation. Resist telling the school how to manage the situation and work with them towards a common goal. Introduce your child to the school counselor and have them identify a touchstone. A touchstone for your child will be a trusted adult that they can seek support from if the bullying continues.
Seek Professional Support. Particularly in situations where the bullying and its effects are more severe, support from a licensed child therapist may be appropriate. Providing your child with a counselor will enable them gain the coping skills needed to process their experiences and emotions. Carolina Pediatric Therapy offers support to children facing a variety of challenges, including bullying. Our counselors can provide you and your family support through solution-focused and evidenced-based practices. Contact our office at 828.398.0043 or visit our website – CarolinaPeds.com – to obtain services from a licensed therapist. Stopbullying.gov also provides information on how to receive help for bullying.
Above all, provide a safe and loving environment for your child to thrive and grow. Provide unconditional love and always remain non-judgemental. There is support for you, your child, and your family. You are not alone.
*One warning sign of bullying includes self-harm and suicidal ideation. If your child is experiencing suicidal ideation, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
5 Tips to Overcome Bullying
Adrienne Stover, MS, LPCA