Bullying & Children

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  • Constant name calling
  • Unwelcomed physical contact -more than one instance of hitting, poking, punching, kicking, throwing things
  • Being laughed at or teased about physical differences or disabilities
  • Having food, money or items stolen on a regular basis
  • Being told what to do by another student (coerced to do something they don’t want to do)
  • Threatening violence, or actual physical violence
  • Tampering with lockers, school books or bags
  • Feeling like a victim, that no one can help and no one will

All these things can happen to your child, sometimes it is a one off instance that can occur when kids get into altercations. This is not acceptable behaviour but it is not bullying. Bullying is a repetitive action done to your child by another child or group of children. The way the first altercation is handled will have a huge impact on what happens next.  Adult interference can actually cause bullying!


Why does my child get bullied?

There are many reasons that a child is singled out. The main reason is pretty simple really, it’s not because of the way they look, the differences they have or where they live. You may be a little surprised by what you read next, but please read on, be open minded and have a little think about how it all got started, if you can even remember. The reason is because your child is seen as an easy target. It may have started as something really simple, and the reaction by your child was not good, the bullies thought this was funny and therefore they do it again to get another reaction. And so the cycle begins.

So how do we stop the cycle of bullying? It really is not as hard as everyone believes. It can in fact be very simple. Your child needs to learn how to not react! How to not care about the words, and how to stand up for themselves in an assertive (not aggressive manner). This can seem like an impossible task, especially if you have also experienced bullying at school. But with the right help your child can learn how to manage school yard bullies, and you can also learn how to cope with memories of your own bullying, and therefore help your child to cope as well.


How do I know if my child is being bullied?

Children will not always tell you what is happening to them. They might be embarrassed, ashamed or have been threatened to not say anything. Below is a list of some of the things to look out for, but remember some of the signs may not be due to bullying, it may be due to depression, anxiety, or general stress with school work and friends, it may be because of a tense home situation. Whatever the reason it will be very beneficial to talk to your child or a health care professional to find out what is happening and how you can help.

  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Crying more often over small things
  • Anger outbursts
  • Fighting more with siblings or parents
  • Change in appetite (eating more or eating less)
  • Becoming overly concerned with school work, or losing interest all together
  • Lack of interest in sporting activities
  • Playing computerised games/internet more than usual
  • Nightmares or bed wetting
  • Any other unusual, disruptive or negative changes in behaviour

Why do children bully others?

Again, there are many different reasons. Depending on the age of the child, they may not be fully aware that they are being bullies. They may see it as fun or harmless and not realise the impact that it has. They may be going through difficulties at home and are taking out their own frustrations on your child. It is important that children who bully others are spoken to with respect about their behaviour, we need to show them how to behave with our behaviour. Remember, we don’t know what is happening for that child or why they are bullying others, but with some care and time we can find out and change the behaviour.

One thing to remember is NOT to give it to much attention, yes that is right. If you give the bullies to much attention about this, that is severe punishment, how do you think they will react? They wont let it go, instead what they will want to do is get back at the person who they bullied, just making the situation worse. This is why it is important to work with the victim of bullying and teach them how to make it stop.

If there is physical violence involved then this is a different matter and must be handled swiftly and carefully.


What can I do to help if my child is being bullied?

DO NOT OVERREACT! Do not play into the child being a victim…. “oh my poor baby, I’ll make them stop”…it won’t work. In fact it will make matters worse! As mentioned above, the bully will become very angry and try to retaliate. It will simply make the situation worse.

Ask your child how they are reacting. Are they getting upset, calling them names back, crying, fighting, dobbing at every opportunity? The best way for your child to react is to do nothing. Yep, nothing. Just show the bullies that you don’t care. Their words mean nothing, in fact they are boring, and you don’t care. Sooner or later the bullies will get bored with the lack of reaction and stop, usually it doesn’t take long because they feel silly when the desired reaction does not occur.

If you cannot support your child through this please talk to someone who can help you.


How can I stop my child from bullying others?

If your child is bullying others you need to first stop and look within your home. Is there aggression within the home, lots of yelling and fighting between parents and /or children? Does your child get enough attention? Is your child bored, angry, depressed or anxious, and taking it out, or trying to hide it through their behaviour with other kids? Talk to them gently about what is going on. If you can’t see what the problem is seek professional help.


How can Reconnect Psychology help us?

The psychologists at Reconnect Psychology understand the bullying process and can help you and your child to understand as well. Simply having someone listen to you can be a huge relief. Many parents feel exasperated by the inability of schools to stop bullying. But the bottom line is it is up to us to teach our kids how to best manage this. Getting angry with the school is not going to help you or your child. It is going to tell the child that it is someone else’s job, it is someone else’s responsibility to stop the bullying. When really with the right tools the child can learn how to be more resilient, to stand up for themselves safely and to stop the bullying themselves.

For lots more information on bullying please have a look at www.bullies2buddies.com