Did you know that this week – November 11th – 15th – is Anti-Bullying Week? The theme this year is ‘Change Starts With Us’, and the goal is to help parents, teachers and children work together to take collective responsibility to stop bullying.
As a parent though it’s tough to know how best to approach it. I was never seriously bullied at school, but my mum’s answer to anybody picking on me, name calling or things like that, was to tell me to just ignore them. ‘They’re just jealous’, she always said. I suspect that was a lie, but it stood me in good stead.
At the other end of the spectrum you have those parents who say to fight back, that the only way to stop a bully is by giving them a taste of their own medicine, but two wrongs don’t make a right do they? Dealing with a bullying by punching them in the face doesn’t feel like a solid plan to me.
So what should you do if you think your child is being bullied? What can you say to reassure and support them and what practical steps can you take to tackle bullying? Today I’ve got Simon Benn in, the UK’s first Children’s Happiness Coach, to give us some tips – 11 things in fact that you need to know if your child is being bullied. Simon has years of experience working with children across the UK and further afield, helping them and their parents to build resilience and immunity to bullying.
Here’s what Simon has to say…
I’ve helped more than 1,600 children understand how to be happy and what I’ve learned is that when it comes to being bullied, how the parent responds is one of the most important factors in the determining the outcome and future happiness of the child. So, if your child is being bullied, here are 11 things you need to know as a parent.
1. It’s an emotional time but the more resilient you can be, the more resilient your child is going to be. Do what it takes to build your own resilience.
2. Your ultimate aim is for your child to be happy. There are two ways to do this. Focus the school on stopping the bullying. Focus on building your child’s resilience. That way they’ll get bullied less. Bullies don’t pick on kids that don’t react.
3. Bullying upsets some kids more than others. That’s due to different levels of resilience. Most parents whose kids are bullied wish they’d built their children’s resilience earlier. But it’s never too late to start.
4. The first thing your child needs to see is that it’s NOT their fault that they’re being bullied. Bullies say they’re picking on us for our glasses, height, weight, clothes etc. They’re really picking on us because they’re sad, angry or scared.
5. No-one has the power to make us unhappy. We can choose how we feel.
6. Cyberbullying seems like a technological problem. In part it is but it’s just like bullying face to face, it’s an emotional problem. So it needs an emotional solution. That is resilience.
7. Your teacher and your child’s school will have come across bullying before. This may mean that they’re likely to be desensitised to it. This may affect their reaction and they’re probably likely to be less emotional about it than you. They’re not being heartless they’ve just seen it before.
8. When we’re criticised or questioned we can become defensive. Teachers are no different. They want their schools to be happy places of learning. They’ve got professional pride. So they may react by denying that it’s happening in the first instance.
9. Many parents regret not getting formal enough soon enough. In the myriad of things on their to-do list, letters to the school don’t get written and schools don’t take enough action.
10. Bringing other parents whose children are being bullied together to exert pressure for action strengthens your case.
11. We’re used to teachers taking the lead and taking care of what needs to be done. Many parents of bullied children have told me that when it comes to bullying, teachers don’t take the lead. I conducted a survey and 75% of parents told me they were dissatisfied with how the schools deal with bullying. I hope you’ll be in the 25% who were satisfied.
Finally, and most importantly, talk to your child and tell them what happened so s/he can see your persistence and how much you care. Show them how much you love them, tell them you will get through this and that you will all be happier and more resilient when you come through it.
If you’d like more support, get in touch with me: www.bully-proof.com