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02Dec 13

Helping your children deal with bullying

Many children have to endure teasing from friends or acquaintances at some point. Sometimes it is all in good fun, but other times it is more frequent and hurtful and turns into bullying.

It is important that we as parents teach our children how to handle these situations. But how? And how do we know when to step in and help our kids in the first place? Here are some of my tips for helping children deal with bullying.

Helping your children deal with bullying

Helping your children deal with bullying

What is bullying?

If someone is nasty to your kids once or twice, you probably would not describe that behaviour as bullying. If it happens time and time again, then it most certainly is.

Bullying is not always physical Teasing and name-calling is bullying too when it hurts your child and happens on a regular basis.

My kids Tom and Mary were both victims of teasing during their first years at school. Tom gave as good as he got, but Mary often came home in tears, particularly when she had to wear braces on her teeth and was the target of name-calling! I would try to console her, trying to find the humour in the situation, which she often appreciated. If that didn’t work, I would suggest that she respond to the taunts by turning and walking away without saying a word. It was like depriving a fire of oxygen – once the bullies saw that their behaviour didn’t affect her, they eventually stopped.

Now that they are older, Tom and Mary seem to be able take any bullying at school in their stride. But I am aware that they could again face problems in their preteen and teenage years, so I haven’t let my guard down.

Furthermore, as we parents are all too aware, children may also become the target of cyber bullying in this high-tech world. This malicious form of bullying can be carried out anonymously, sometimes with serious consequences. I’m making sure that my children know that I am sympathetic to bullying now so that when they enter the world of smartphones and email, they won’t hesitate to let me know if something is wrong.

Tell-tale signs of bullying

Kids on the receiving end of bullying often withdraw into themselves and lose their self-esteem. Their behaviour at home can be affected. Here are some tell-tale signs of bullying from my experience:

• Trouble sleeping
Feigning sickness to stay at home and avoid going to school
• Increased sibling discontent. I would notice Mary picking on Tom at home for no reason.  This was her reaction to being picked on at school.

As parents, we have to accept that we cannot fight our children’s battles for them – no matter how difficult that is! If we find out that our kids are being bullied, we need to be there for them, talk about the situation and take every opportunity to boost their self-confidence.

What are your tips for helping your child deal with bullying?

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