If you are a parent and feeling concerned, upset or anxious because your child is being  harrassed or teased, here’s how to support your bullied child:

“My heart is broken. My daughter is such a sweet child. But she tells me the other children are chasing her at school and calling her ‘piggy’.“

If your child has ever experienced this sort of pain, read on!

9 Essential Strategies – How to Support Your Bullied Child

#1 Keep calm so you can hold an objective frame of mind

Your child needs you to be connected; yet at the same time you need to contain your strong emotions. This matters because otherwise your upset can “contaminate” the listening space your child needs.

If you are reactive she may be affected by the reaction she’s sensing from you.

It’s possible that if you are over-anxious that she will hold back from telling you things you might need to hear, or otherwise a child may embellish the story when she finds she is repeatedly the centre of attention if she mentions such incidents. You want to support your child to work through the situation to develop happier outcomes; not stay stuck in it.

For more on how to keep calm in stressful situations, see my book, “Stop Yelling – 9 steps to calmer happier parenting)

#2 Take your child’s upset seriously

Some parents may respond with a comment like,

“You’re all right then!”

Your child wouldn’t be telling you about the incident if she was alright!

Bruises on the soul may not be visible but they can cause life-long scars.

#3 Recognise young children don’t always realise their behaviour is hurtful

Often a hurtful incident starts as a game – but crosses the boundary into “not okay” behaviour. If there seems to be bullying happening we need to be involved. Young children do not yet have the social skills to handle the situation alone. If the incident happened at school, hopefully, the teacher is your ally. Ask to meet with her, giving her as much detail as you know, in a clear objective way, stating what your child experienced. Then ask what steps will be taken to deal with this situation to ensure that other similar incidents will not happen. Bullying is not about only two children. Bullying is a community matter and school is our first formal environment where we need to learn social justice.

#4 Create a calm, safe space to chat about the incident

Create a space where your child can talk about the incident if she chooses.

Clarify as much detail as possible.

You need to hear what happened to figure out what response is needed.

If this might be more than a once-off minor incident, it’s important to keep a clear record of the facts of what happened. (Like any professional document, record only the facts; don’t write down your emotional reactions or any judgements. Only facts. This is important because if there is a pattern of bullying behaviour you need to be able to state what happened and when. That’s not easy to remember at a later date, especially when you are emotionally involved.

For more strategies on how to support your child to find a way forward in bullying situations, see my blog: “9 Inspiring Tips – How To Bully-Proof Your Child”

#5 Use “clean language” to discuss what happened

Word your questions and responses in a way that does not pollute your child’s thinking.

e.g. It’s not helpful to ask, “Was that girl mean to you?”

When you ask a question like that, you pollute your child’s mind with the thought that the other child was mean, which wasn’t necessarily your child’s experience.

Rather ask a “clean” question like, “What happened?”

#6 “Listen” to your child’s body language

It’s not only the words you want to listen to but your child’s body language, tone of voice and facial expression.

You’ll gain more insight into your child’s perspective and experience of what happened, and what’s needed now when you are tuned in to her

#7 Be empathetic as your child shares his story

It’s easy to want to check he’s telling it ”right”. The more he calms, the more he can clearly tell you what happened. the more he makes sense of what happened the more clearly your child can think  anc can start envisioning a more powerful way of responding.

Stop bullying - we are all different

#8 Help your child envision how to respond differently

Avoid using statements like,

“Don’t be a baby!’

Stand up for yourself!”

Comments like these will only add to your child feeling ”not okay” and do not give your child a picture of how to respond in a more positive and empowering way. You want to create the thinking space for your child to be able to figure out what they can do to create a happier solution.

#9 Use the power of  “What…?” questions

Once you sense your child is calm and ready to look for solutions, use “What…’ questions to help your child think about how they could handle a similar situation in the future.

“What could you do next time?”

“What helps you to stay strong inside yourself?”

The importance of dealing with the incident when your child is bullied

The wise parent uses these early incidents as opportunities to help their children learn to find healthy ways to deal with challenges in social interactions before an unhealthy pattern of passive or aggressive behaviour develops. When you respond to your child’s concerns you give a message, “You matter!” – a hugely important message if your child is feeling like they don’t matter to their peers.

Knowing how to respond helpfully when your child is bullied can help your child develop assertive behaviour that can shield them in a healthy way. This matters for your child’s happiness and self-esteem not only now in the immediate situation you’re facing – but it helps build resilience and self-esteem throughout life; important factors for your child’s mental health and well-being.

How to support your bullied child

Last edited January 28th 2019

Parenting Expert Val Mullally gives a call for peace –  a  call to every parent to take action for a happier, peace-full world.  

Do you ever worry about what sort of world your children will have to survive in? 

What sort of future will your child have?

It’s scary to have people in control of situations who are not in control of themselves.

It’s time for change. We need to be clearly anti-war. War is not an option.

“The cost of war not only to lives but to minds and imaginations, to the integrity of whole societies, is still unsurpassed.”  Rowan Williams

Cost of War to Lives, Minds, Imaginations and Society

 

It’s time for us to do differently. It’s time to raise a generation of people who know that all of us need and deserve mutual respect. We all need to learn how to cooperate.

It’s time to raise a generation who will lead well.

It’s our job as parents – and as grandparents –  to raise that generation.

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Such an old saying we often don’t stop to think about the power of that statement. You, mothers and fathers, parents are the ones who rock the cradle. And grandparents, we rock the cradle too.  This task is so huge and so urgent that every one of us needs to be on board  to make peace a reality.  You, parents, are the ones who rule the world because you are raising the next generation. You are raising the next generation who will either continue to repeat the same patterns of using aggression as their tool of choice to force their own way, no matter what the consequences, or you can raise a different generation who know how to calm themselves so they can stay in the clear thinking “Green Zone”, and model how to find better, kinder solutions, that take everyone’s needs into account.

We, as parents – and grandparents – need to demonstrate by our own lives that any form of bullying behaviour is NOT OKAY.

Will you choose to set the example in your own home?

“There is a choice in everything, but in the end the choice makes you.”

The choice is yours. The opportunity is here.

We all hope we will be parents who act in a loving way, but, as my colleague Elizabeth Garry Brosnan says,

Hope is not a strategy

Always we hope for better, more, greater… but dear friend, hope is not a strategy!

If we want to stop having bullies running the world we need to have a quiet revolution in our homes and schools. We need a clear strategy to raise a generation of children who know how to navigate relationships in a way that is mutually respectful.

We CAN make the difference.

Homes where there is joy, where there is harmony, start with ourselves and with our family interactions.

And we have the potential to raise happier children who will create a happier, more peaceful world.

You are the cradle-rockers!

Decide to be one of the growing numbers of parents who have a strategy for a happier home, for relationships that model cooperation, communication and connection. Let’s rock the world! 

But how?

One small step in the direction to peace in the world and peace in our families is to be more peace-full in ourselves. Then we will have the inner calm to perceive what’s needed and to respond helpfully, even when things aren’t going smoothly.

When we know how to respond, rather than react, we’ll also be able to model to our children how to move from conflict to connection –  a core skill that makes for happier day-to-day living, and is needed at every level of our social, education, business and political interactions.

But how?

May I suggest you have a look at my  live online bootcamp “Stop Yelling – nine steps to calmer, happier parenting”.

It’s a starting point to being the cradle-rocker who makes the difference – even when your children are well past the cradle stage!

Let’s call for peace by living it. Let’s BE the difference that makes the difference.

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Last edited January 07th 2019

When Adults Bully Kids, When Kids Bully Adults

Join Parent Coach and author Val Mullally MA  in this webinar (online seminar) on Tuesday 6 November 2012, 8pm Dublin time, to gain some  useful insights into this upsetting subject, whether:

– your child has been involved in bullying behaviour

– has been bullied

– or is concerned about another child who is being bullied.

(This webinar will also be of benefit to professionals working with children / families). 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

What’s a webinar? 

A webinar is an online forum, where you can listen to the topic discussed. It’s also an opportunity to network with other participants across the world and voiuce your questions, concerns and observations about the topic. There is no charge for this webinar, and no special software is required. All you need to take part is to be able to connect with the internet. 

 

Last edited November 05th 2012