Almost 200,000 children miss school every day as a result of bullying. Could it be happening to your child? And if so what can you do to help? This is one of the biggest questions facing parents and caregivers today
Many children going through bullying can feel very isolated and, for them, it can be a time of immense fear, inward withdrawal and self persecution, which only adds to the bullying experience.
It takes a lot of courage for a child to own up to being bullied as by owning up, or telling, the child could feel that they are making themselves vulnerable and may be seen as weak and that, despite all their own personal best efforts, the bullying is still happening to them.
When a child owns up to being bullied the very first thing you should do is listen, I mean really listen, take what they are saying seriously, respect that they have chosen you at this time to make themselves vulnerable.
Find out exactly what is happening, when and by who and what type of bullying they are experiencing from the four major types of bullying below, which can be one or a combination of these:
- Verbal bullying - includes name calling, insults, homophobic or racist remarks.
- Intimidating or Exclusion bullying – where the child is excluded from joining in and rumour spreading.
- Physical bullying – pinching, punching, slapping, hair pulling or harming personal property.
- Cyberbullying – being tormented via social media, text, email or any other electronic means.
When a child own up to being bullied, never say any of the following expressions as it could make them withdraw and, although untrue, they could feel that you don’t care or understand:
- it’s only names
- find some new friends
- just walk away
- why don’t you turn your phone off?
- I’m too busy to listen, tell me later
At this time they are already feeling weak and vulnerable and need your love, support and compassion more than ever. Unless you have been bullied yourself, it may be difficult for you to really understand how they are feeling as, to you, it could sound petty, at times. Know that, to the child, this is absolutely real life and a serious situation.
Ask them how long it’s been going and who else know about this such as teachers or their friends. Have they had any offer of support as yet? Never be offended that you may be the last to know, children can find it difficult to tell their parents for fear of feeling that they have done something wrong or failed them in some way. Ask them what type of support they might like to have and let them know that, although you may not have all the answers, you will work with them to find something soon.
It is likely that you yourself may feel angry and may want to go to see the bully or their parents yourself; in the first instance speak with the school principal and let them know what is happening and the name(s) of those doing the bullying. Do not feel that you need to approach the bully or their parents, leave that to the proper channels to deal with.
A question often asked is should your child still go to school? If it is safe to do so, yes, it is important to keep to as much of a normal routine as possible. Try to find someone that can buddy up with your child, it could be one of their existing friends or someone new. This will give them a sense of support and may help them to feel a little confident, as bullies often attack when the child is by themselves.
If it’s Cyber bullying that your child is going through, block the bully in every way. It is easy now to block phone numbers by calling the telephone provider. If they are receiving nasty emails then block the email address, if you don’t know how to do this the child will. For social media simply unfriend them. However, bullies are very resilient and usually operate in groups, so there may be several numbers or people to block.
For physical bullying notify the police for any physical injury or harm.
There is a lot of help available with bullying situations and many ways to deal with it. The below offers some valuable resources available in New Zealand and worldwide, with many schools now having in-house counselors. It is possible that there may be local support groups near you so keep an eye out in the school magazine or local papers:
- FYD - www.fyd.org.nz - they work via schools throughout the country for all ages
- Youthline – www.youthline.co.nz - a counselling and support service
- Kidsline - www.kidsline.org.nz - a telephone counselling service for children up to age 14
- Keeping kids safe online - www.cyberbullying.co.nz
The below link will take you to links for many more worldwide organisations that can offer help with bullying.
I can also recommend my own book, Discover the Magic of EFT for Bullying – written to help children release the emotional effects of bullying to quickly gain confidence and self-esteem. This self-help guide for children, parents, teachers or anyone working with children is available online as a paperback and e-reader formats. By working through the exercises in this book it will help both you your child feel better, and in feeling better the bullying may stop altogether as the child moves from being a victim to overcoming bulling. It covers each of the four major bullying areas as noted previously.
Know that whatever is happening it is not your child’s fault; they have probably tried to deal with it themselves and have reached the point where they no longer can. Never underestimate the power of your unconditional love and support which can often be just what is needed to give them the strength and confidence to get through this together.
Look out for further articles on this topic and how to recognize bullying.
About Debby Emeny (Guddee)
Having been bullied through childhood, in the workplace and in relationships, Debby’s passion is to empower you to create confidence and self-esteem and help you achieve your goals by identifying and removing limiting beliefs which block your success.
Based in New Zealand, Debby is qualified in adult teaching, NLP, is a certified Master EFT Trainer and Matrix-Reimprinting Practitioner. She is also a children’s Heart-Math educator and a powerful public speaker.
She is a children’s author with her first book, My Favorite Hugs being voted one of 12 most notable children’s books of 2013 by Shelf Unbound. Her latest book, Discover the Magic of EFT for Bullying which helps children recover from the emotional effects of bullying to gain confidence and self-esteem, was voted one of the best instructional books of 2014.,
She is mother to one daughter and a devoted grandmother that keeps her forever young.
Debby works with clients in person and via Skype.
Discover more about Debby and her work at www.dev.free-yourself.co