Bullying is a form of abuse at the hands of peers that can take different forms at different ages. It is targeted and repeated. It involves power, aggression, intimidation and shame. It preys on vulnerability and exposes both children who bully, and those who are bullied, to a number of social and mental health problems and a lifetime pattern of abuse.

My child is being bullied. What can I do as a parent?

The key to success: develop self-esteem

Remain calm
  • It is normal for parents to feel sad or angry when bullying happens
  • Try to control your emotions when helping your child
  • Do not confront the bully's parents, let the school know instead
Listen to your child's feelings
  • Take what your child says seriously
  • Tell your child that it is normal to be sad
  • Alleviate feelings of self blame
Encourage independent problem-solving
  • Hold a brainstorming session
  • Write down all the things he or she can to do to solve the problem
  • Figure out together the advantages and disadvantage of each solution
Suggest being more assertive
  • Practice through role play
  • Teach your child to say to the bully: "I don't like it when you (specify the behaviour). I want you to stop"
  • Promote direct and respectful assertiveness to avoid insulting the bully

Convince your child not to show fear in front of the bully

Teach self-protection
  • Tell your child to stay away from isolated areas
  • Encourage sticking to a group of friends
  • Make your child aware that getting back at the bully is not a good solution: it can even be dangerous
Foster self-esteem
  • Practice posture with your child to give the appearance of confidence:
  • Keep the back straight and the head high
    • Relax when walking 
    • Avoid staring when looking at others
  • Sign your child up for activities that increase self-confidence (e.g. karate)
  • Congratulate your child on his or her successes
Take action at school
  • Encourage your child to tell an adult at the school about the bullying
  • Write down the details of the incident: the date, the time, the location, the people involved, etc.
  • Find out about the school's policy on bullying
  • Cooperate with the school to find solutions

 My child is bullying. What can I do as a parent?

The key to success: build empathy

Remain calm
  • It is normal for parents to feel sad or ashamed about the incidents
  • Take the school's warning seriously
  • Do your child a favour by correcting the behaviour as soon as possible
  • Get as many details as possible by asking your child what happened
Establish clear and firm rules
  • Tell your child you will no longer tolerate bullying behaviour
  • Take away privileges when your child disobeys you
  • Supervise closely: don't leave your children home alone
  • Do not use corporal punishment
Teach empathy and tolerance
  • Ask your child how he or she would feel in the victim's shoes
  • Draw your child's attention to similarities rather than differences between people
Remind your child of the rule
"Treat others as you would like to be treated"
Keep your child busy with meaningful activities
  • Encourage him or her to sign up for organized and empowering activities (e.g. soccer)
  • Give your child opportunities to do good deeds (e.g. offering to help someone out)
  • Limit television watching, video games and computer time. Check out the content as well: oftentimes these contain a lot of violence!
Be a good role model
  • Agree to cooperate with the school
  • Be aware of your own prejudices
  • Avoid spreading gossip
  • Don't tell racist or sexist jokes
  • Control your feelings of anger in order to teach your child to avoid using aggression to solve problems

My child has witnessed bullying...

  • Discuss bullying with your child and his or her role as witness
  • Discourage joining the bully
  • Encourage your child to tell an adult at the school about it
  • Inform your child that telling the bully to stop bothering others
  • Could be tried, provided it is a safe alternative

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