Sadly bullying is, and always will be a part of life. But when it happens to our precious child who is blissfully unaware that not everyone loves and adores him or her, it is distressing.
As parents we naturally want to defend and protect our child from hurt. However the harsh reality is that we can’t and won’t, always be with our child to do that. So its more about equipping our children with life skills to manage this behaviour. Doing some “What would you do if….” Conversations can give you some insights into how well equipped your child may be to manage bullying behaviour.
The main message to get across is to tell an adult or someone who can intervene. If your child discloses to you then its important that you take them seriously, make an appointment to speak to their teacher and discuss a plan of action. If you do not get a satisfactory response from their teacher then take it further with another staff member but try to avoid going directly to the parent of the bully .
If children feel safe enough to they can be encouraged to stand up to the bully using “I messages” such as “I don’t like it when you say that, please stop”.
Research is showing that the ‘bystander effect” is a deterrent to bullying behaviour. So conversations with your child around “what would you do if you saw someone being bullied” are also important. Talk with them about standing up for someone, or if they are too afraid to do this for fear of recrimination, to at least show the person being bullied in some way that you don’t agree with the bully by smiling , emailing, sharing, texting, or even sitting next to that person.
Resilience is a word used to describe the ability to bounce back from bad stuff that life deals out to us all occasionally.
It’s important to develop resilience in our children because current research shows that it is one of the protective factors against mental health issues later in life. (http://www.catholic.tas.edu.au/Resources/documents/kidsmatter-1/risk-and-protective-overview.pdf)
According to Andrew Fuller (Raising Real People Creating a Resilient Family, ACER Press 2002) there are many ways to develop resilience in children but the most important include:
- Promoting a sense of identity by creating family times where all members are values for their differences.
- Setting age appropriate boundaries and being consistent in enforcing them.
- Encouraging children to feel valued by allowing them to have some age appropriate responsibilities.
- Develop diverse friendship groups in children by encouraging outside school interests.
- Creating and maintaining family rituals such as birthdays or goodnight rituals.
- Children are at school for a long time so be careful to select a school, if possible, that best matches your child’s “fit”.
- Have positive expectations for your child.
- If possible, link children up with a caring adult who is outside of the family.
- Foster and encourage curiosity and spontaneity not only in children but also yourself!
- Most importantly, nourish your own resilience and well-being so that you can show them how to live and love life.