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  • Writer's pictureP.E.T. South Africa

Children and Bullying: 3 Basic Tips

Children will encounter many ups and downs in life, and one of the worst challenges is coming across a bully. Bullying is wrapped in emotions for both children and parents. As a parent, your instinct is to protect, but jumping in and taking ownership of your child's problem could rob them of a significant opportunity to learn valuable life skills to protect themselves from the bullies we encounter in all phases of life.

Children will have many strong feelings, thoughts, or problems, and as a parent, it's not always easy to determine at what point to intervene. But, you've been there, you know the solutions, and you want to make life easier for your child or not have them go through the same pains. Below are essential communication skills for listening to your child when they have a problem.

Remain calm and listen

It is tough not to become overwhelmed with anger and emotion when you hear your child is being bullied. It is more important that you remain calm, rational, and objective so you can genuinely listen and understand the emotions your child is experiencing -- your child needs to feel safe and able to share with you what's happening.

Don't interrupt! Allow your child to experience emotions. Your non-verbal responses like facial expressions and body language will be crucial to show that you are tuned in to every word your child says.

Remember to use common sense to differentiate between bullying and more common typical child behaviour, i.e. girls especially can be nasty to each other but not to the point of bullying. Sometimes all that's needed is equipping your child with coping and communication skills to help them build self-esteem and deal with social problems in their environment.

Get a clear picture of what's happening

Your child might be overrun with emotions, feeling scared, angry, sad, and anxious, making it hard to separate the facts from the emotion; remember it's normal to feel these emotions as a child and to be confused. It is wise to talk to teachers and other parents if you notice your child struggling to regulate, and these emotions have a repetitive, recurring appearance. Get your child to be as specific as possible about what's going on before determining the next course of action.

Help your child build their self-confidence and relationship skills

A strong sense of self - knowing who I am, where I belong, what my boundaries are, and how to communicate are essential life skills that can help your child solve problems and seek out healthy friendships in their environment. In addition, knowing they've got a loving, supportive, and non-judgemental home environment to return to will help them through this challenging childhood.

Important: Never be passive. If you suspect your child is being harassed online or to the extent that the bullying borders on severe anti-social behaviour (e.g. death threats, invasion of privacy, physical/mental abuse), you must intervene. Get the school involved, and other parents to map out the way forward.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.


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