IT'S not easy finding out your child is being bullied and you may struggle to know what to say.
How do you know if your response will help ease the situation or actually make it worse?
If you believe your child is experiencing a form of bullying, showing signs of anxiety or demonstrating a change in behaviour, Dr. Amanda Gummer, a child psychologist, says just be available to them.
The child expert and founder of The Good Play Guide said to keep the lines of communication open, but there are some things you should avoid saying.
"Whilst it’s important to allow your child to build resilience, you want them to trust you and also trust that you will take seriously what they tell you," she tells Fabulous.
"I would encourage parents not to gloss over any bullying conversation or try and put a positive spin on it by saying things like ‘it will soon blow over’ or ‘ when I was at school the bullies always amounted to nothing.’ "
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Dr Gummer noted that it takes great bravery for a child to bring up the topic with a parent and they'll most likely be worried about sharing their thoughts.
" Always praise them for being brave and bringing up a sensitive topic. Avoid suggesting they may be being ‘dramatic’ or ‘exaggerating’," she says.
"It's important they know they can update you on how they are feeling and feel listened to – even if you believe the only course of action is to listen and suspect it may be a simple falling out."
While playground squabbles seem a normal part of growing up to us, they can feel far worse for a child who is being excluded or "being called out for their opinion on something."
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Dr Gummer says: "Never suggest the bullies ‘will soon get bored and pick on someone else’ as that just endorses negative behaviour.
"And don’t suggest they are ‘probably doing it to other people too, it won’t be just you’. "
So what should parents do?
Dr Gummer says: "Being there for your child and letting them talk about their concerns is as important as you dealing with it, or escalating your concerns to the school or professionals involved.
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" Never encourage retaliation and don’t suggest they ‘stand up for themselves'.
"In coming to you – they have made a decisive move to stand up for their wellbeing and opening up and being able to communicate is a crucial part of a parent's relationship with a child."
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