It’s a sad fact, but at some point in your child’s life, they are likely to be bullied. Kids can be really mean, especially if another child is perceived as different in some way. Bullying can have a huge impact on a child’s self-esteem and can really shatter an already fragile self-image.
What should you do, then, if your child is being bullied? This post looks at how you can help your child through times of bullying.
What to do in the beginning
Your child may come to you one day and say that they are being bullied. Alternatively, you may hear about times at school that sound like they are bullying situations or your child might suddenly become quiet and withdrawn. They may also try to take time off school. When you suspect bullying, it’s important that you don’t confront your child and instead give them time and space to talk to you about it. Something as simple as baking or doing something creative together can give your child the moment they need to admit something is wrong. If that doesn’t work, consider having a quiet word with them about what is perhaps upsetting them or causing them to have time off school. It’s important you listen to everything they say in a calm manner and then offer them support and comfort.
Some children may think that it’s their own fault and might be ashamed about it. Others might worry about being in even more trouble with the bully. It’s important that you praise your child for coming forward and let them know that they did the right thing.
You should let someone at the school know about what is happening so that they can keep an eye on the situation. Teachers and counsellors are the best people to approach before anyone else – don’t confront the bully’s parents either until the school is made aware.
How to restore your child’s confidence
Bullying can have a huge negative impact on your child’s self-esteem. Bullies are great at picking apart any perceived flaws in your child’s appearance and this can really affect the way they view themselves. When bullying is occurring, you can help maintain and restore your child’s confidence by trying some of the following:
- Find a club or activity to engage your child. This will allow them to try out new skills and build confidence and their identity in areas outside of school. It also provides them with an outlet for whatever they are feeling and a possible source of new friends.
- Provide a listening ear in times of need, but also encourage your child to tell you about the good stuff that has happened during their day.
- Schedule in alone time with just you and your child. This can be doing something creative together or simply watching a movie. You’re letting your child know that you are there for them and giving them an opportunity to talk to you if they need.
- Let them know that they are important, talented and that you love them. Your child’s self-esteem will be low and they might have image issues. You shouldn’t focus on praising the way that they look but also include other areas like their generosity, their focus and their patience with their siblings, for instance.
- Give them an outlet. Apart from the clubs mentioned above, if your child is quite introverted and wouldn’t enjoy an after-school club, then you can provide items like diaries or worry dolls to help them talk about their feelings.
Bullying is a difficult time for everyone. It’s important to be there for your child when they are being bullied and to let them know that it isn’t going to be a permanent situation. With your help and support, your child will get through it. As well as taking practical steps to stop the bullying, you should also spend time with your child restoring any damage that has been done to their confidence.