Monthly Archives: October 2013

Help !!! My child is being bullied!! What can I do?

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.

5 Ways to Stop Biting

No_BitingWhen your child bites another we often react with shock and disappointment and other parents around us are appalled and disapproving.  Biting is no worse than swearing, hitting or pushing however  the parental response is often out of proportion to the “crime” of biting.  Biting is one way young children communicate so if you have a “snappy” toddler here are 5 things to consider:

  1.  Your child might be expressing emotions for which they don’t have words.  Start emotional literacy early giving children words for their feelings and using them in everyday language:  “I feel uncomfortable when you lean on me like that”.
  2. Young children use their mouths to experiment with their world.  Be vigilant and get in early before your child bites.  Know your child’s warning signs and gently remove them from the situation when biting seems a likely response.
  3. Biting is a useful tool for defence particularly when there is competition.  It works.  Reduce competition for coveted toys and parental attention particularly when other children are around.
  4. Your child might be using biting to gain power and control over complex situations they are not developmentally ready to deal with.  Sharing and turn taking are difficult tasks to master; even adults are challenged some times.  Help your child to understand biting isn’t useful and share your skills when you have to wait or share:  “sometimes when I feel impatient and have to wait I sing a little song to myself to pass the time”.
  5. Be positive and watch for good non-biting behaviour.  It’s the old advice:  catch them being good and give them really solid information about how they are being good:  “when you told Jacob that it was your turn for the toy I felt really pleased that you used your words. “

Be patient.  Like most difficult childhood behaviours biting will pass as children grow and enter the next developmental stage of emotional maturity.

How can you tell if someone is feeling suicidal?

Sometimes people will show definite signs that they are thinking of taking their own life, often as a response to ongoing and unrelenting psychological pain for which death is an escape rather than a desire to end life

Some people may show one or many of these signs or none at all…but if you suspect someone you know may be thinking about suicide it’s really important that you ask them directly and in an unambiguous way about their suicidal thoughts for example:

• “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” or
• “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”

Signs a person may be suicidal include:

• Hopelessness
• Rage ,anger ,seeking revenge
• Increasing alcohol or drug use
• Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out
• Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
• Looking for ways to kill themselves :seeking access to pills, weapons, or other means
• Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
• Dramatic changes in mood, both for the better and worse
• No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
• Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
• Giving away treasured possessions and getting affairs in order
• Withdrawing from friends, family, or society
Adapted from Rudd et al (2006)

Warning signs for suicide: Theory; research and clinical applications. Suicide and Life-Threatening behaviour, 36:255-262

You may think that people who talk about suicide are just “attention seekers” and not really serious, but all talk of suicide must be taken seriously (effectively they are “attention needers”), and this may be the only way this person knows how to communicate how bad they are feeling.

It’s also important to continue to monitor someone for 3-6 months after they receive treatment as this can be a critical time for suicide.

Adapted from Mental Health First Aid Australia. Suicidal thoughts and behaviours: first aid guidelines. Melbourne: Mental Health First Aid Australia; 2008

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Web_20From the moment our child is born we are setting boundaries for safety and well-being. As they grow, we gradually hand over responsibility in line with their developing maturity.

Which boundaries are negotiable and which are not? Are both parents on the same page?

When is my child old enough to have a mobile phone? Go to the park alone?

Often our own experiences growing up affect our ideas about boundary-setting and whether we want to do it the same or differently. Society has changed as well and children have access to the world via technology.

There are no simple answers to these questions, but talk to other parents and share your thoughts. Safety needs to be paramount, but so does allowing our children to make mistakes and learn. Decide what the non-negotiables are (which will need to be renegotiated over time!) and explain these to your child. Some parents find writing up the family rules to be helpful. Discuss the issues with your child that you are prepared to negotiate on and let them know what behaviours you would need to observe that would let you know they are ready for more freedom. When mistakes are made, renegotiate.
Children are much more likely to respect the boundaries if we are in a trusting relationship with them. This respect is earned from our positive role-modelling and honest communication.

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