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Our Favourite Ways to Deal with Bullying

No one wants to find out that their child is being bullied, but if they are it's useful to know how you can help


Bullying takes on many forms, from name calling to manipulative behaviour and physical threats, and more recently by text messages or on social networking sites.

How to deal with children bullying

It is important to realise that every bullying experience is unique, and while this article offers a summary of ways to deal with bullying, further information needs to be sought in each individual situation.

As an adult, it is sometimes difficult to know when you are being reprimanded and when you are the victim of office bullying, so it's easy to understand how children are often in a position where they don't realise they are being bullied, but they know they are unhappy with the people around them or the situation.

Bullying copying mechanisms

Everyone deals with being bullied differently, but according to a study by the Child Development Journal* there are three main coping mechanisms invoked to cope with the pressures surrounding being bullied.

Some children will actively seek out new friends, in an attempt to counter the feeling of isolation associated with bullying. Others will look for approval from their peer groups, by being the best, the coolest or the most popular, often pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable to do so. And lastly, children may seek to be model citizens, drawing no attention to themselves, but assimilating to the perceived average. These children want to avoid embarrassment as well as praise or criticism.

As a parent, the signs to look for are not always as visual as bruises, or frequently missing /destroyed property. The side effects of bullying are often manifested in physical illness (head and stomach aches) real or imagined, difficulty sleeping due to worry or nightmares, a change in school performance levels, negative feelings toward themselves or life in general, or a sudden change in friendship circles.

These symptoms are not exclusive to bullying nor are they exhaustive but they do give you somewhere to start.

We've teamed up with Bullying.co.uk, in order to provide you with a few ways to deal with the situation, if your child is being bullied or in fact is the bully.

How do you help a child who is being bullied?

Young boy faces bullying

It's every parent's worst nightmare to find out that their child is being bullied.

However hard it might be there is support that you can offer your child to help them through this traumatic time and here are our Top Tips:

  • Talk to your child, and reassure them that they haven't done anything wrong to deserve to be treated in this way. It isn't uncommon for children to feel as though they deserve this treatment so regular reassurance is vital
  • If you can see that your child is struggling to talk, don't pressurise them. Let them know that you will always be there for them when they feel ready to talk
  • Sometimes as a parent we might be a little too close, so think about whether there might be another trusted adult that could step in
  • Ensure you liaise with the school and obtain the name of a teacher that your child can go to if they feel frightened
  • Encourage your child to always stay with friends to avoid them being targeted on their own
  • Introduce other strategies to help them cope - writing things down or drawing pictures will mean that they have a release for their feelings which might avoid bottling things up
  • Try some role play with them and act out a scenario with their toys. This might help you to get a clearer perspective on what might be going on. Encourage them to talk about the way they feel. Short sharp bursts and a calm environment are vital but don't be put off if you don't get results straightaway
  • Never insist that your child stands up to bullies. No two children are the same and this might actually put your child under additional pressure
  • If your child is older, think about whether an assertiveness workshop might help. Kidscape offer one day workshops which are free of charge. They are based in London and are for children between the ages of 9 and 15. They will learn strategies to help them deal with bullying and will be around other children that have also been through similar experiences
  • Not all bullying is physical or verbal - cyber bullying is on the increase. If you think your child would benefit from talking to other children who have been through something similar encourage them to look at the CyberMentors' website. This is aimed at children between the ages of 11 and 17 and provides a safe place to access real-time, online support from trained mentors, who are young people their own age they can talk to. The mentors offer support and advice, and professional counselors can also provide more in depth therapeutic support
  • We have lots of children that come and chat online with us about bullying. If you think that this is something that would help, do give them our details or encourage them to talk to ChildLine


* Karen D. Rudolph, Jamie L. Abaied, Megan Flynn, Niwako Sugimura and Anna Monica Agoston. Developing Relationships, Being Cool, and Not Looking Like a Loser: Social Goal Orientation Predicts Children's Responses to Peer Aggression. Child Development, 29 AUG 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01631.x

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