You’re Not Alone
As parents, there are lots of situations we hope our children never encounter. We do our best to equip our kids with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed as they navigate through this world. One of the toughest situations can be when your child comes home and tells you they have a bully at school. We may have a million different thoughts and emotions rush through our head. Why didn’t the school catch it? Did my child do something? Who could possibly pick on my child? But most importantly, what can I do about it?
Bullying takes many forms; from physical power abuse to verbal and emotional insults. With the rise of the internet, we’ve also seen dramatic rises in cyberbullying across social media and on-line video games. Public Safety Canada notes that this rise is of major concern to today’s parents, reporting that 48% of parents have serious concerns about cyberbullying. This issue is more concerning than teen pregnancy (44%), drug use (40%) or alcohol use (38%)
If you discover your child is being bullied, you might start thinking immediately what you can do to stop the bullying. Call the school? Confront the bully’s parents? Call the police? The truth is… it depends. First and foremost, if your child is experiencing a threat or danger to their safety, it is best to immediately inform the school and law enforcement. Above all else, your child’s safety is paramount. However not all bullying cases carry such immediate risk to harm. What do you do then?
As a parent, there are a few things to keep in mind as you and your child try to navigate such a tough situation. Open communication is extremely important. Fostering an environment where your child feels safe to talk about their bully(s) provides them with a place to express their emotions and thoughts while keeping you informed about incidents that occur. Often, children’s biggest fear in talking to parents about bullying is that a parent will over-react and take an action to make the situation worse.
Work with your child to find solutions. Even if you take action to try and reduce the bullying, your child may still encounter the same bully or new one’s down the line. It’s important to make sure that your child feels like they are the one’s creating solutions. Question them on possible options and rather than rate them as “good” or “bad” solutions, ask them what they think will happen if they use it.
Lastly, be honest with your child that facing a bully is hard. Validate the emotions they are experiencing and show them you want to work with them. Even so, children still might not feel comfortable talking about bullies with their parents. If you’re finding this to be the case, set them up with someone they do feel comfortable talking to such as another family member, teacher, principal or counsellor.
If you’re struggling with finding solutions to your child’s bully concerns, I encourage you to take a moment and use the resources available to you to best assist your child. Access informational resources such as PrevNet, contact your child’s school and setup a meeting with the principal, or give Bayridge Counselling Centres a call at (905) 319-1488.