What To Do About Bullying

If your child is being bullied, there are certain things you should say and avoid when trying to get your child to open up to you. Take a look at our tips on what to say and do if your child is being bullied.

What to do about Bullying - Things to say:

  • Be prepared. Know what you are going to say. The first words you utter when you talk to your child are critical. Make them the right ones. 
  • Use the Internet to look at information on bullying because it’s an invaluable source of free information. 
  • Pick a place where there are no interruptions. The best way to talk to your child is one on one. If there are other people around it will only make them self-conscious. Stress that what is happening to them is not their fault. The bullied usually think it is.
  • Ensure they know that you will do everything that you can to get the bullying to stop.
  • Get specific details from them about what’s been happening. Did anyone witness any of these events? How did it make them feel? Who was involved? 
  • Discuss with them what action you can take. They have to know that the decision is a joint one. Ask them what they want you to do before deciding on a course of action like contacting the school or speaking to the bully or bullies’ parents. Bullied children need to know that something will be done, and giving them a major role in the process will ensure they get back some of the power they’ve had taken away by the bullies. 
  • Tell them if you were bullied or if anyone you know was so that they can see that you empathise with them and have an understanding of what it’s like to be their age and have their problems.
  • Be sensitive when asking them questions so that it doesn’t come across as an interrogation.

What to do about Bullying - Things to avoid:

  • It’s not easy, but don’t get angry. The bully isn’t in the room, but your child is. If you get angry they’ll think you’re angry with them, not the bully
  • Never suggest that it may be their fault. When 15-year-old Mary Jane told her mum about the bullying, her mum responded with ‘What did you do to cause that?’ The blame for bullying has to be placed firmly at the bully’s door because it is never the victim’s fault. 
  • Don’t tell them to stand up for themselves and ask why they didn’t. It makes it sound like you are blaming them. Besides, maybe they did try to stand up for themselves and it backfired, making them feel worse. Perhaps that’s just not the kind of thing they can do because you brought them up to be a decent and compassionate human being, who respects others. 
  • Refrain from telling everyone about the bullying or you will make your child feel like everybody knows and is talking about him or her.
  • Don’t be angry with them because the bullying has been going on for so long and they haven’t told you. This is a natural reaction, not because you are angry with them, but because deep down you are angry with yourself. It has to be your fault they didn’t feel able to talk to you. It’s not, and blaming yourself and anyone other than the bully is pointless.
  • Don’t threaten the bullies or their parents with violence. That’s the last thing you should do. Of course you’re angry, but violence never solved anything. 
  • Don’t make promises that you can’t keep, for example say you’ll take them out of school if need be and teach them at home. When you have no intention of doing that it will destroy their trust. 
  • On no account should you promise to keep what your child has told you confidential. This can be difficult for a parent to do, especially when your child is so obviously upset, but there’s no way you can take action if you keep what they have told you to yourself. 
  • Whatever you do, do not be tempted to take your child out of school and take them away on holiday to give them a break. The bullying problem has to be sorted out now as a matter of great urgency. Leave it until later and your child will only worry.

For more information on bullying, and what to do if your child is being bullied, take a look at Bullying - A Parent's Guide.

You may also find our article on Cyber Bullying useful.

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Bullying: A Parent's Guide