Anti-Bullying Week 2018 runs from the 12th-16th of November and this year the theme is ‘Choose Respect’. For more information on how to get involved click here.
With bullying affecting over one million young people every year, it’s important that it’s taken seriously and children aren’t just told to ‘toughen up.’ In fact, the effects of bullying can be very serious and affect a child’s sense of safety and self-worth. In severe cases, kids can end up depressed and bullying can even contribute to tragedies such as self-harm and suicide. If your child is being bullied, it important that as parents you always step in. Start by helping your child learn strategies they can use to tackle bullying. This can help them feel more confident, less powerless and know how to improve the situation if it arises.
Stay around people
Encourage your children to stay around their friends and other people at school as much as possible. This way the bully probably won’t bother them as much as if they’re alone. You could even get them to use a buddy system- this way they have someone with them on the bus, in the hallways and at break time- wherever the bully is. Get them to offer to do the same for others.
Spend time with ‘real’ friends
It’s important to encourage your kids to only spend time with people who make them feel good about themselves. If someone is constantly putting them down, remind them they’re not a real friend or worth their time. This can often be how kids are bullied without even realising it, so it’s good if your children can recognise if their ‘friends’ are actually being mean or making fun of them.
One of the worst ways children can respond to bullying is by fighting or bullying back. Often this kind of retaliation can quickly escalate into violence, trouble or someone getting hurt and is more than likely what the bully thrives on as it makes them feel more powerful. Instead, teach your children that it’s best to walk away from the situation and have time to ‘cool down’, take some deep breaths or seek help from an adult.
Act brave and uninterested
Teaching your children to act brave and uninterested even if they feel upset inside is an effective way to show the bully they don’t care. By walking away and putting on a brave face will mean the bully gets bored trying bother them as they aren’t getting the reaction they wanted.
Don’t be afraid to tell an adult
Often kids will avoid telling adults if they’re being bullied in fear the bullying will get worse. However, teaching your children that adults are there to help deal with the problem and regardless of whether it’s a teacher, headteacher, parent or lunch supervisor, they should never be afraid to tell someone.
Talk about it!
If children are being bullied it’s easy for them to bottle everything up, which can end up causing anxiety and feelings of depression. Make sure your kids know the importance of talking to someone they trust such as a school counsellor, teacher, family member or friend. Not only will it make them feel better talking through the issues they’re having, but the other person may be able to offer some helpful suggestions and make them feel less alone.
Get involved in activities that build confidence
Encourage your child to get involved in activities outside of school that build their confidence and self-esteem. This will help them form friendships outside of school or wherever the bullying is taking place.
Remember, if your child is being bullied it’s crucial to assure them the bullying isn’t their fault and that you’re always there to support them. For additional help, advice, support and other services, click here.