Sue Atkins and Ditch the Label: ‘Can Parents Stop Bullying?’

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

Can Parents make it stop?

As parents, we’re sure you’re familiar with the crippling pain and anger you feel when someone intentionally hurts or upsets your child. Its a world of mixed emotions telling you to protect your kid. The thing is, as a parent, there is only so much you can do to make the bullying stop and the power is often out of our hands. Even though you want it to end immediately, it’s important to understand that it is never an overnight thing. The most productive thing you can do is to get involved in the process in a proactive way.

What is the role of a parent in this situation?

Support. Understand. Listen.

You can’t stop it immediately, you can only influence the situation either positively or negatively. What it all boils down to is the way you conduct yourself as a parent to your child, and a parent of a child who’s being bullied. By emotionally supporting your child you can help them to work through the problem and come out the other end with their self-esteem and confidence intact.

Collaborating with the school

Overcoming bullying is all about working together with the school. You’re probably rolling your eyes at this point because well… easier said than done, right? 🙄 If the bullying is taking place at school or if the perpetrators of the bullying attend the same school as your child, it is imperative that you inform the school. Remember, just because it’s happening there, doesn’t mean they are aware of it.

Here are some pointers to consider before you speak with a teacher:

  • Every school has an Anti-Bullying Policy, make sure you familiarise yourself with this policy before speaking with the school.
  • Understand that overcoming bullying is very much a process, not an event – nothing will change overnight.
  • Weekly meetings/emails/phone calls are proactive and are needed when working towards the successful outcome.
  • Work with the school to nurture your child’s talents, hobbies and interests
  • Read our extensive guide to dealing with the school in cases of bullying 

How does it affect me as a parent?

It can be an extremely stressful time for a parent of a child who’s being bullied. Seeing your child in distress is the worst feeling but in order to help your child, you need to ensure that you’re looking after yourself too! You’ll be no good to your kid if you’re stressed and angry. Here are a handful of things to remember:

  • Seek support – (not just mates and wine) There is loads of help to be accessed in our Parents Hub surrounding what to do if your child is being bullied. Alternatively, you can seek help through the school or send an email to info@ditchthelabel.org and a trained mentor will get back to you.
  • Professional help -If you need to speak to a professional about your stress levels, do it. There is no shame in seeking professional help for yourself, especially when you have people depending on you! It is so important to recognise that in cases of bullying, parents suffer too.
    Most importantly, remember that you are not alone! Contact Ditch the Label to speak with a digital mentor.
  • Understanding –  It’s important to try your best to understand and empathise with your child. It’s easy to brush it aside and this can sometimes happen because hearing about your child’s experiences can unearth lots of buried emotions if you have had similar personal experiences in the past. Instead of ignoring it, use your experience to normalise their situation. Reassure them that they are not alone, lots of people go through it and draw on your own experience to help them overcome it.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself – You aren’t expected to know how to deal with this straight away.  It’s normal to feel as though you’re fumbling around in the dark trying to help – until you start seeing results you’re likely to feel frustrated and helpless but don’t give up – this too shall pass! Remember that you are in a much better position to help your child if you’re feeling confident in yourself and your ability to help them through this. Don’t be afraid to take some “me time” to regroup and relax.
  • It’s likely they’ll push you away at times. We’ve all experienced that pang of hurt when our kids push us away but understand that they probably need their own space too. Often parents will experience their child acting out if they’re going through stressful times at school, they’ll likely carry this into other areas of their lives. It’s normal.

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