Bully-proof your child with kidscape.org.uk
It is very likely that you won’t know your child is being bullied
Children keep secrets, either because they’ve been frightened into silence, or are afraid an adult’s interference will only make it worse. This is particularly true if the bullying goes on through the internet or a phone—they worry that you might remove access.
You will need to be sensitive to any changes in behaviour—a child who is suddenly sad, regressing (starts to demand more comfort, or wets the bed, for instance), angry, alone. You may see dinner money disappear, or clothes or textbooks be taken or ripped. A child may be extra teary, or even say, ”No one likes me.” Or a child might, finally, break down.
Certainly talk to the teacher, or perhaps the head teacher. They should help ensure your child’s safety—it’s the law.
You will need to listen to your child. But convince yourself, and your child, that there are practical things you can work on together, that will block the bullies. Make sure they understand—it’s the bully who’s at fault, not your child. And that he or she has a right not to be bullied.
You can work on some of Kidscape’s techniques. (For more information and tips, do see the website www.kidscape.org.uk)
Most important—have your child stand in front of a mirror and work on standing tall, looking others in the eye in a confident way, with shoulders back. Looking vulnerable and discouraged invites attacks. Even if he or she doesn’t feel confident—act as if it were true.
Remind the child to
•Tell a friend what is happening, and ask for help and company..
It will be harder for the bully to pick on you if you have a friend with you for support.
•Try to ignore the bullying or say 'No' really firmly, then turn and walk away.
Remember, it is very hard for the bully to go on bullying someone who won't stand still to listen.
•Try not to show that you are upset or angry. Bullies love to get a reaction - it's 'fun'. If you can keep calm and hide your emotions, they might get bored and leave you alone.
•Don't fight back if you can help it. Most bullies are bigger or stronger than you. If you fight back you could make the situation worse, get hurt or be blamed for starting the trouble.
•It's not worth getting hurt to keep possessions or money. If you feel threatened, give the bullies what they want. Property can be replaced, you can't.
•Try to think up replies in advance. Replies don't have to be wonderfully brilliant or clever but it helps to have an answer ready. Practice saying them in the mirror at home. Using prepared replies works best if the bully is not too threatening and just needs to be put off.
•Try to avoid being alone in the places where you know the bully is likely to pick on you. This might mean changing your route to school, avoiding parts of playground, or only using common rooms or lavatories when other people are there. It's not fair that you have to do this, but it might put the bully off.
•Keep a diary of what is happening. Write down details of the incidents. When you do decide to tell someone, a written record of the bullying makes it easier to prove what has been going on, and helps your school plan how to make a safer school.
This is a beginning—it is a challenge breaking up bullying when it is firmly entrenched and will take time. Calm support and practise will help your child win through—and learn lessons to use all life long.