I'm a parenting expert – from homework battles to bullying confession…how to really talk to your kids about school life | The Sun

BULLYING, struggling to befriend fellow peers and vaping – just some of the main concerns parents are worried about before sending their kids to school.

A recent poll of 1,000 UK-based parents of children aged nine to 16 revealed a lengthy list of main anxieties amongst mums and dads during this time.

From bullying to giving in the temptation or peer pressure to try vaping – a rising trend that's been linked to at least five deaths in the UK – one expert, Kirsty Ketley, has revealed how to have these necessary conversations with school-aged children.

Kirsty, better known to her fans on Instagram as Auntie K., chatted exclusively to Fabulous to share her tips and advice.


One of the main things to remember here is that bullying comes in different from – and sometimes it's actually just poor social skills.

Kirsty said: ''Some peer conflict is normal, right from a young age, and parents sometimes confuse this with bullying.

read more on children

Poll shares top worries for parents when kids start school, including bullying

Sam Faiers cruelly mum-shamed over holiday photo with her three kids

''Peer conflict usually gets resolved quickly and both parties are on an equal footing – they both have equal power.

''Conflict doesn’t involve violence and is a mutual disagreement between the two.''

Of course, it can be awful to learn that your child has become victim of bullying – or that it is your child who's the bully in the classroom.

If your child hasn't opened up about being bullied at school, there are a few key signs that you can keep an eye for, Kirsty added.

Most read in Fabulous


A stability moon means friends & family harmony can happen faster than you think


King releases portrait of late Queen to mark one year since her death


I photographed the Queen for four decades – I’ll never forget the day she died


I’m a fashion expert… here are 10 must-have buys from M&S’ autumn range

Signs your child might be bullied at school

  • Your child becoming withdrawn
  • Changes to their behaviour – perhaps they are more angrier than usual
  • Not doing well at school suddenly
  • Changes in their eating habits
  • Sudden anxiety or nervousness, previously unseen
  • Damage to their possessions, such as their uniform or their bag, and items going missing without proper explanation
  • Issues with their sleep
  • Unexplained cuts or bruises

Once you have gained the facts, the parenting expert explained it is important that you remain calm and actively listen to your child, without getting angry and upset.

''Putting your own feelings aside, ask them how they would like you to help, reassuring them that it’s not their fault – the issues are with the bully.''

Then follow the next steps – and whilst telling your kid to hit back or name call may be tempting, this is not the right approach.

Instead, immediately inform school, Kirsty strongly advised.

''All schools have a bullying policy in place and will be able to help your child. It is important that you work with the school and not against and avoid splashing everything over social media.

''It is best not to go and confront the bully either.''

Vaping & peer pressure

A relatively new trend, smoking E-cigarettes has become an increasingly popular habit across the world, especially amongst the younger generation.

In fact, vapes have become so easily accessible, that even kids can purchase them – and vaping-related hospitalisations in children have nearly quadrupled in two years, official figures show.

One in ten children aged 11 to 15 regularly use e-cigs, alarming figures obtained by the NHS show — even though selling them to under-18s is against the law.

For children, it's usually the sweet and fruity aroma that makes them tempted to try it for the first time – but peer pressure plays a key role too.

''Having conversations about the pros and cons of things that your teen might feel pressured into doing, such as underage drinking and vaping, is a better way to go rather than forbidding them.

''Giving them the facts and then allowing them to make the right choice is likely to be more effective, and knowing that you are there for them if they do make the wrong choice, is equally important.''

Making friends

Helping your child gain the social skills starts from a very young age whilst still at nursery or day-care – so chances are the same skills will be ''embedded in them'', Kirsty urged not to worry too much.

It may be needed to give them a little reminder on how to best navigate new friendships – give them conversation starters that can break the ice, use open questions, find someone who is on their own, for example.

She added: ''Being involved in clubs out of school can really help your child be confident to speak with other kids they don't know.''

Kirsty also reminded that a lot of being sociable outside school happens on social media and WhatsApp – so factor this in when instilling phone rules and boundaries.


Teenagers need independence – however, here it is vital to find the right balance, as too little or too much of it could lead to issues,

Kirsty went on to add that certain boundaries, especially when it comes to phone and internet usage, are a must.

''Most kids have their first phone by Year 7. They need to understand how to navigate the internet safely and, particularly for younger teens, I would use parental controls and restrict their usage.

''No phones after a certain time in the evening, no social media until at least the minimum age, and then with parental control, understand how to block and report people who may upset them.''

Independence goes beyond using gadgets, Kirsty noted.

''Walking themselves to school? Show them how to get there safely and then get them to show you that they can do it.''

Perhaps most importantly, parents should also teach their kids the steps required in an emergency – who to contact, where to go.

''Make sure they understand who they should or should not trust.''


Homework is a central part of every school year, however, it's around high school when it really tends to ramp up.

To ensure the semesters pass by smoothly with no issues, your child will need to learn how to manage their time effectively and efficiently.

Kirsty emphasised: ''Homework is ultimately your child's responsibility, and not only should it be them doing it, they need to understand that there are consequences for it not being done.

Read More on The Sun

Fans convinced Kanye’s wife is pregnant after spotting clue in Italy

Molly Marsh praised for revealing ‘real body’ secret not shown on Love Island

''If you feel your child is struggling, a chat with school is a must to work together to find a solution.''

Meanwhile, at home, ensure your kid has a balanced mix of both homework and down time.

Source: Read Full Article