What can I do if my child doesn’t want to talk about being bullied?

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What can I do if my child doesn’t want to talk about being bullied?

Creating a safe space to talk

Most children tend to blame themselves if they have been bullied and think that talking about it will make it worse as you’ll go ‘all guns blazing’ into school or online to sort it out. So reassure your child, as in all aspects of their life, that you are there for them, no matter what, and create an open and healthy space to chat through anything that might be worrying them.

Reassure them that it’s never their fault and bullies must never be allowed to get away with it.

Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and can erode a child’s self-esteem and mental health. Whether bullying is verbal, physical, relational, or online the long-term effects are equally harmful.

Learning the warning signs

So it’s time to get savvy and learn the warning signs of cyberbullying, remembering that bullying is always intentional, mean-spirited, & rarely happens only once and there is always a power imbalance. The victim cannot hold their own and will often need adult help.

Create a Safe and Open Environment

  • Be Patient:

Understand that your child might need time to feel comfortable opening up. Don’t rush them or pressure them to talk immediately.

  • Show Empathy:

Express understanding and concern without being intrusive. Let your child know you are there for them whenever they are ready to talk.

  • Stay Calm:

Avoid reacting with anger or frustration, as this can make your child more reluctant to share their experiences.

Encourage Open Communication

  • Use Indirect Methods:

Sometimes children feel more comfortable discussing their feelings indirectly. You could use stories, books, or movies that deal with bullying to start a conversation.

  • Ask Open-Ended Questions:

Instead of directly asking if they are being bullied, ask about their day, their friends, and how they feel at school. This can help them open up gradually.

  • Normalise Their Feelings:

Let them know that it’s okay to feel upset, scared, or confused, and that these feelings are normal when dealing with difficult situations.

Observe and Be Involved

  • Look for Signs:

Pay attention to changes in behavior, mood, or physical symptoms that might indicate bullying. These can include withdrawal, anxiety, unexplained injuries, or a reluctance to go to school.

  • Stay Involved:

Be engaged in your child’s school life. Attend school events, meet their friends, and stay in touch with teachers and school staff to get a broader picture of their social environment.

Seek External Support

  • Professional Help:

If your child continues to be reluctant to talk, consider seeking help from a school counselor or a child psychologist who specializes in dealing with bullying.

  • Support Groups:

Sometimes, children feel more comfortable sharing their experiences with peers. Look for support groups or programmes designed to help children cope with bullying.

Educate and Empower

  • Teach Coping Strategies:

Help your child develop skills to deal with bullying, such as assertiveness, seeking help from trusted adults, and practicing self-care.

  • Build Confidence:

Engage your child in activities they enjoy and excel in to build their self-esteem and resilience.

Take Action

  • Work with the School:

If you suspect bullying, collaborate with the school to address the issue. Ensure that the school has a clear anti-bullying policy and that it is being enforced.

Follow Up

  • Regular Check-ins:

Continue to check in with your child regularly about their feelings and experiences. Keep the lines of communication open and reassure them of your support.

‘Talk and Teach’ your child about how to stay safe online and encourage them to come to you if they find themselves feeling out of their depth or distressed.

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