What is Bullying?
As children grow and learn, they are constantly navigating social relationships and learning how to interact with others. Sadly, for many children, this also means learning to cope with bullies.
Bullying is a pattern of behaviour – it is a set of repeated, deliberate, unkind, and/or unsafe social, verbal, physical or cyber behaviour that causes harm to someone who has less power.
Every child is unique. Your child’s reaction will be influenced by the characteristics of the bullying and their own personality. Some signs of bullying might be:
- Unexplained bruises or scratches
- Difficulties sleeping and/or eating
- Changes in mood and/or behaviour
- Declines in school performance
- Feeling sick in the morning
- Not wanting to go to school
- Reluctance to talk about why they are upset
How can I help my child?
To show support spend time calmly talking with your child about the bullying. Once you have some information about what has been happening work with your child’s teacher to get them help at school.
- Listen to your child by giving them your full attention and asking short, simple questions
- Validate their emotions and remind them that it is not their fault
- Praise your child for sharing the information with you and tell them that it is not ok for someone to treat them like this
- Show your child you are on their team and you are going to help. This could be brainstorming a few solutions and letting them know that it would be a good idea for you to get the teacher’s help too.
- Arrange a private meeting with your child’s teacher as soon as possible to ensure they are aware of what is happening and develop a plan to address the bullying.
What are some strategies to help my child cope with bullying?
Your child is the person who has to cope with the bullying in the school and some strategies they may want to try are listed below. It may be helpful to focus on the strategies that are best for your child’s situation and practise them with your child.
- Ignoring the bully and moving away from them
- Assertively telling the bully to stop
- Avoiding the bully and the places they like to spend their time
- Staying with friends and spending time in busy parts of the school
- Telling a teacher to get help
At home keep showing love, warmth, and support to your child. This doesn’t mean always talking about the bullying. It could mean spending more time playing a game with them in the afternoon, asking about the good parts in their day and pointing out some of the strengths they have used.
Bullying is never ok – it is hurtful and can have an impact on self-esteem as well as social, emotional, and academic wellbeing. Sometimes professional support is needed from the School Counsellor or a Psychologist. For warm and credible support, we are available for face-to-face and telehealth appointments which you can book here. For immediate once-off support, Kids Helpline are also available to talk on 1800 55 1800.
Jessica Buster (M Clin Psych, Grad Dip Prof Psych, BA Psych Hons) is passionate about creating a caring and safe space to promote effective working relationships. Jessica applies evidence-based interventions in a client focused and collaborative manner to assist children, young people and their families move towards their goals of growth and wellbeing.
Jessica’s clinical training and experience has equipped her with skills in the assessment and treatment for mental health issues. She has gained experience working in roles across non-profit, hospital and private settings. This has included working as an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapist and roles at Guardian Youth Care, Headspace, Westmead Children’s Hospital Psycho-Oncology, and Healthy Minds Happy Kids.
Across all her roles, Jessica has pursued her interest in working with children, adolescents and their families experiencing a range of mental health difficulties including anxiety, emotion regulation difficulties, behavioural difficulties, social difficulties, and disability. She has been able to promote understanding and engagement with these clients by integrating a sense of fun and creativity into treatment.