Bullying is a serious issue that can have a lasting impact on mental health and wellbeing. As a parent it can be heart-breaking to learn that your child is being bullied. We all want the best for our children. We often wonder how they are going at school, hoping for them, and wishing for them a rewarding and safe experience.
If you have learned that your child is being bullied at school, there are steps you can take to support your child and address the situation. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips for what to do if your child is getting bullied.
1. Listen to your child
The first step is to listen. Your child may feel confused, scared or even ashamed. If they are telling you they are being bullied then they are demonstrating bravery and self-protection. It is important to acknowledge and reward your child for this healthy, brave behaviour. Encourage them to share their experience without judgment. Validate their emotions and let them know what is happening to them is not ok. Let them know you and the school are going to help make a change.
2. Contact the school and advocate for change
Schools have an enormous responsibility. Document the bullying. Contact the school. Speak to educators and administrators that are directly responsible for safety. Talk with educators that know and care about your child. Arrange for a meeting with the teacher, principal, school counsellor, and/ or wellbeing coordinator. Share your concerns and provide any documentation you have. Ask the school directly, what is their bullying and safety policy? Ask what steps the school will take to address the bullying and how they will support your child.
3. Assess the level of risk
If it is not safe for your child to attend the school, the school needs to be aware of your concern. If you are confident the school is taking steps to protect and support your child, you may like to follow up, check to see what steps have been taken, and continue advocating for change.
4. Teach your child coping skills
Bullying can have a significant impact on self-esteem and confidence. You may have your own coping skills to share, perhaps your child already has a set of excellent skills for resilience and managing adversity. You might like to find and explore resources together online, in books, podcasts, or elsewhere. Encourage them to engage in activities they enjoy, celebrate who they are, spend time with supportive family and friends, or express themselves through art, sport, writing or music.
5. Seek professional help if necessary
If your child is struggling to cope with the bullying experience, this is normal. You may need extra time, resources or support. If your child is experiencing significant mental health effects, a psychologist can provide support by teaching your child additional coping strategies, and offering a safe place for them to process the experience and supporting parents.
The Victorian Government provides a number of practical steps and advice for parents, schools and teachers to support children who have experienced bullying. You may like to explore the website here https://www.vic.gov.au/bully-stoppers
written by Tim Walker
Tim Walker. Mental Health Clinician
The Tiger Who Came to Tea is a children’s book. A young girl is surprised when a tiger enters the house at dinner time.
Naturally this is an unexpected and difficult disruption!
Rather than avoiding or resisting the tiger, the young girl offers it some tea. In fact, the tiger eats absolutely everything! The girl decides to accept him. The more food the tiger needs, the more she offers him. The girl and her family make room for the tiger, and finally it leaves.
If we think of the tiger as anxiety knocking at the door, this story is a great example of using mindfulness and flexible thinking, individually and as a family, to manage anxiety.
Whilst not based on mindfulness concepts, this story is a good analogy for sitting with anxiety in our lives, to better manage mental health.
Seeing what is true, we hold what we see with kindness