How To Talk To Kids About Bullying
What should you do if your child is being bullied? How can you talk to your kids about bullying? Storyberries offers parenting tips and free books about bullying.
School life is not just about academic learning. Their schooling years are also a time where they learn socialisation with their peers: a long and complex process which continues well into our adult lives. And with such a large proportion of children’s growing time including daily interaction with their peers, at one time or another almost every parent is sure to worry about their child and bullying.
According to Australian National Center Against Bullying,
Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.
The power imbalance can come from many areas, but may most often include imbalances arising from differences in physical strength, from access to embarrassing information, or from the influence of group dynamics. Bullying can include verbal abuse (such as name-calling, threats, sexual harassment or insults), physical bullying, cyber bullying, or may be social bullying: hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. It can often involve a combination of several kinds of abuse. In the U.S about 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying and 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools*. Kids who are bullied can have serious, lasting problems with self-esteem, relationships, communication and learning.
Choose a comfortable setting and a suitable time to discuss the issue with your child. Home is often a safe zone, and for younger children the issue may be approached through play, because child is more relaxed. An example of potential kinds of play could include using toys or figurines to recreate a day at school, and seeing where the activity takes you.
Feel free to let your conversation be guided by how the child responds. If there is a sad, isolated doll for example, you might take the opportunity to ask your child if they also feel sad or isolated. Or if a doll hits someone, ask your child if they have seen that kind of behaviour at school.
When your child talks about it, give them all your affection and support to help make them feel secure. It can be helpful to explain that what a bully or bullies do to them is not right, that they are not to blame (we must remove any hint of guilt) and that you are going to look for an immediate solution.
If your child is intimidated and does not want you to act, you may offer reassurance that acting to stop the bullying is the most important thing, and that you will approach the subject sensitively in their social zone. It is then a good idea to discuss the issue discreetly with the relevant teacher or organisation, in order to activate the protocol as soon as possible.
Storyberries has a number of free books about bullying which you can read for free online by clicking on the links below:
In The Rainbow Cloud, a twin stands up for her sister who is bullied by a little boy who says she is cursed. The twins are stronger together, and feel proud knowing that they can protect one another. The Rainbow Child is a bright picture book for children aged 4-6 or older.
In the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling, a little duckling is shut out from his friends for being plain, until he matures and grows into a beautiful swan. The Ugly Duckling is a wonderful story for helping children to realise that their worth is often not reflected by what their friends say but rather, comes from what they have inside them.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa/ Jade Maitre Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.