5 ways to help kids when they are bullied at school

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5 ways to help kids when they are bullied at school
by FiveHive’s resident Parenting Expert (Australia’s No. 1 Parenting Educator!) Michael Grose

Start of the school year is a time when children are establishing, re-establishing and sorting out their friendship groups.

Sometimes this can lead to some conflict, some teasing and some rejection. Kids can feeling hurt and disappointed can vent their feelings at home. And rightfully so, as home should be a place to share your hurts & disappoints.

These social mishaps and disappointments shouldn’t be confused with bullying. Often children will tease, argue and sometimes fight, which shouldn’t be confused with bullying.

Bullying is an insidious behaviour that transgresses children’s right to feel safe and secure. It can adversely affect children’s learning, emotional well-being, further peer relations and their emotional well-being.

It is about lack of power as one person is powerless to stop teasing, intimidation or physical abuse. Bullying is the selective, uninvited, repetitive oppression of one person by another person or group. It should not be tolerated by adults.

Signs of bullying include: school refusal, items stolen or clothes torn, changing the route to school or withdrawal from usual activities.

Here are five things to do if you suspect your child is being bullied:

  1. Listen to their story & get the facts: Stay calm and get the real story. Kids need to be believed when they are bullied, so don’t make sure they get the chance to talk.
  2. Recognise & validate their feelings (anger, fear & sadness are common): Bullying always elicits strong feelings so make sure kids can share their thoughts and feelings with you.
  3. Give them some common coping skills & defense mechanisms: Look for some simple ways to help them handle the bullying such as making sure you stay in pairs, practicing a comeback line or even walk and talk more confidently
  4. Get the school involved: If your child continues to struggle with bullying contact your child’s school. All Australian schools are required to have a bullying responses in place, so make sure you tap into the resources of your school.
  5. Help build your child’s support networks & their self-confidence: Positive peer groups are great protective factors for kids when they are bullied so do all you can to encourage and build their friendship groups inside and outside school.

Michael has a wonderful newsletter for Parents called Happy Kids and heaps of books and resources at www.parentingideas.com.au. You can also WIN some of his resources by interacting on FiveHive. Find out HOW.

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  • JudyK

    Hi Michael, I love these 5 tips! I know #3 works brilliantly, as my son had been verbally bullied for a long time, despite having special ed teachers that were supposed to help him develop skills to defend himself. One day after school, after hearing yet more complaints about what the bullies did that day, I said, “Why don’t you just tell them to ‘GET LOST’?” To which my boy replied, “Aha! That’s it! I’ll tell them to get lost!” We practised a few times to get the tone right, and next day and it worked a treat. Instead of crying and over-reacting, my boy told the bully to get lost – and failing to get the usual reaction, the bully did just that. Other handy comeback lines were: “Act your age!” and “Aw, grow up!” Not every child thinks quickly of appropriate lines in the heat of the moment, and fear of getting into trouble for name-calling or swearing, even in retaliation, can mute them. A few good lines gives your kid at least some armour in the battlefield. And if your kid has a speech delay, it’s all the more important. -J


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