Help: My child is being bullied at school!

Nothing is more heart-wrenching than hearing your child is afraid to go to school because they’re being bullied. Here’s what parents can do.

For children who are victims of bullying by their peers, the thought of going to school every day can be unbearable.

With January in full swing, it’s no surprise that some kids are experiencing the ‘new grade, new teachers, new friends’ jitters. While some complaining is normal, sometimes a child’s school refusal stems from a desperate need to never again face the teasing and bullying they experienced last year.

For children who have been the victims of taunting and teasing in the past, the thought of heading into another school term can be unbearable, regardless of mom and dad’s well-meaning pep talks or their promises that this year will be different.

What parents of bullied children can do?

If you have a child who is legitimately anxious about going to school every day, here are a few things to bear in mind:

Give your child practical, sensible advice

Encourage your child to avoid engaging with kids (crying, whining, pouting) if they bother him. Displays of weakness offer bullies the reaction they’re looking for. The best first response is to simply walk away.

Teach your child self-worth

Help empower your child with role plays that teach her body language and verbal tools she can use to deter a would-be bully. “No! Back off! Stop bugging me!” can help communicate a level of assertiveness that will make a child less of a viable target.

Communicate with the school

Talk with the teacher or principal about arranging a meeting with kids who have been bullies to establish clear, firm consequences for any and all unkind behaviour.

Nurture an open relationship with your child

Most importantly, allow your child to offload her concerns freely, and don’t engage in debates when she announces that she’s quitting fourth grade. Offer empathy and support: “I understand you’re afraid of going through more of the awful things that happened last term. We’re going to make some changes so that doesn’t happen anymore.”

Encourage a culture of no-bullying

Every school should have a strong no-bullying policy. Every child deserves to know we are their advocates and that they can go to school each day knowing their physical and emotional welfare will be guarded with care. If bullying persists, and all your other efforts have failed, contact CHILDLINE SOUTH AFRICA for more advice

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