Helping young people cope
Help your child to suggest some realistic options that they can try to address the behaviour, and support them to do so. Some children might be good at writing things down or recording their feelings in a blog, others might be able to react to bullying behaviour by using a clever comeback, while some will feel better just for having told someone.
Children and young people need to know that they can talk to someone. They might not want to worry you as a parent or carer, or see you over react, but they need to know they can talk to someone; it might be an older brother, a cousin, an aunt or a teacher or they can call Childline and speak to someone they don’t know in confidence. Just talking about it can help, and can reduce worry and stress levels.
Remember, what works for one person won’t always work for another, what worked before might not work today – it is all about exploring options. What will help a child cope with what is happening, as well as what will make the behaviour stop. We need to be alert to both.
You might find it useful to direct children and young people to further information and advice.
The temptation to run off and solve the situation is an understandable one, but we should always take a moment, pause and think, ‘how do I give my child back a sense of being in control?’, because it’s that sense of being in control that has been taken from them, and that has to focus how you respond.
It is also worth remembering that a child may feel bullied even if they haven’t been. For example, they might not have been invited to a party because the numbers were limited or they misjudged the way a person looked at them. We still need to respond to how they feel but there may be no need to label the other person or feel that something needs to be done about them.
Also a child can attempt to bully someone, without any success. For example, they may shout homophobic slurs at someone who is not in the least bit bothered. This child has not been bullied but the behaviour they are experiencing is unacceptable and needs to be addressed.