Bullying and your children

As a parent you are probably concerned with the topic of bullying and your children. Some children are bullies while others can be victims and your child may well be one of those who needs help in this area. Modern forms of bullying can be very different from that which you may have come across yourself at school, and so dealing with a bully now can mean learning some new coping methods.

There are different types of bullying, all of which can be harmful to your child. Not only do children today need to deal with possible physical aggression from other children, but they may also have cyber bullying to contend with. At the same time some children who wouldn’t have normally become bullies themselves, when bullying mainly involved physical aggression and name calling, join in with bad behavior by tormenting other children via the internet or their mobile phones.

The first step in dealing with bullying is to recognise when it is occurring. Your child may hide their activities from you, either because they are ashamed or because they are embarrassed by whats happening. Most children though, are more than glad when their parents find out the truth as dealing with bullying behavior alone can be a distressing experience.

By monitoring your child’s computer and mobile phone use you can more accurately get a picture of their experiences. Both children who are bullied, and those who are the culprits, are likely to use either form of communication to receive or send harmful messages. It can be a useful exercise to limit your child’s usage of the internet to certain times of day when you are around, and to check on how they are doing regularly.

Teaching your child not to give out their email address or mobile phone number can help to limit abuse, as can reminding your child that their mobile phone is for emergencies and family use only. By only allowing them a certain amount of money for their calls per week you can aid them in reducing the risk of taking part in mobile phone bullying.

Be aware that bullying can occur to your child whatever their age when they are at school or during playtime. Children can inadvertently, and purposefully, be very cruel to each other. Much of the time taking part in bullying is due to peer pressure. A child who is a bully usually suffers from low self esteem and uses bullying tactics to raise their peer presence and make themselves feel more accepted and special.

A child who is on the receiving end of bullying can lose confidence and doubt themselves and their ability to cope. Having a loving and caring parent to talk to about their experiences can ease their burden and help them release pent up emotion. As an adult you can also give your child more confidence by letting them know that you will always be there for them and that they can call you for help anytime.

If you discover that you child is a bully, or is being bullied, it is a good idea to involve their school by arranging to have an informal discussion with their head teacher. Teachers are used to witnessing and dealing with bullying behavior and can keep an eye on the situation and calm down stormy waters amongst feuding children.

The most important thing you can do for your child as a parent in this situation is to set loving boundaries where bullying is involved, and to lend a listening ear so that your child doesn’t feel alone with their problem. By limiting the different ways your child can be bullied or bully others, you can prevent a lot of future unhappiness for your child.