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11 Guidelines to assist you in helping your child deal with bullying

Is your child a victim of bullying? Melina Georgiou, from Meaningful Minds Psychologists gives parents 11 ways to help deal with their child being bullied. For more information, please contact us today on 081 759 4849/

Bullying has sadly become rampant in our society today, leaving in its wake many children and parents feeling helpless and emotionally, mentally and physically drained. Children often feel embarrassed or ashamed opening up to others about being bullied and may be concerned with retaliation from the bully. They may also feel trapped and hopeless in the sense that they don’t feel anyone will be able to help them, so what’s the point of telling anyone and making it worse.

Bullying often has long-lasting effects, and carries physiological, emotional, psychological and social implications such as:

  • Headaches, stomach pains and feeling ill

  • Over-sensitivity, tantrums, angry outbursts, crying often and thoughts of self-harm

  • Low self-esteem, feelings of depression and anxiety

  • Lower grades and social withdrawal

As parents, protective instincts are primal when it comes to your children, and sometimes, your initial reactive urges may do more damage than good. It is essential to take a moment of pause and carefully consider your response to the situation. Each circumstance and child is distinctively different, but below are several general guidelines that can be taken into consideration when contemplating your response:

1. Don’t let your emotions control your reaction. It is understandable that your protective parental instincts will immediately take effect, however, an outburst of emotions may not only intimidate your child but may be a catalyst for their existing emotional turmoil. Your child needs you to be calm, understanding and supportive.

2. Listen to your child. Let them do the talking and try not to criticise them for possibly handling the situation in a way you may not approve of.

3. Do not retaliate against the bully or the parents of the bully. Even though this may probably be your initial protective reaction, take a breath and remember that doing so may only aggravate the situation.

4. Make an appointment to see your child’s teacher. They may not be aware of what is going on with your child. Additionally, the teacher may be able to suggest other learners that your child may establish a connection with.

5. Empower your child. Let them feel like they are solving the problem on their own terms. Guide them with questions such as “What can you do next time this happens?” and “What can we do to help you feel better?”.

6. Provide your child with affirmation. Focus on boosting their self-esteem by helping them identify and harness their strengths.

7. Encourage your child to get involved in after school group activities such as sport, creative or cultural activities. This may promote self-esteem and facilitates the development of their social skills.

8. Don’t forget about you. Be sure to get support for yourself. Talk to supportive family members, friends or a psychologist. This situation can bring out a mixture and mess of emotions from you, such as stress, anxiety, worry, depression and anger. If nothing else, expressing yourself to others will help you feel like you are not alone and that there isn’t anything wrong with you or your child.

9. Teach your child safety strategies. Role-play different scenarios and reactions and encourage them to seek out help from an adult when feeling intimidated by a bully.

10. Suggest effective coping strategies for your child, particularly by promoting self-expression and emotional catharsis. Activities such as journaling, painting, sculpting, pottery, running and boxing are all examples of ways your child can release their pent-up emotions.

11. Ensure a supportive, loving and nurturing home environment. Your child needs the stability, comfort and security of their place of safety, their home. They need a space where they will feel safe enough to open up and talk to someone, whether it’d be you, a close family member or friend.

Bullying is, unfortunately, not something that is just going to go away, or that your child will be able to overcome instantaneously. It can be a long road for you and your child. Whilst your child does not have control over what is happening to them, they do have control over their response to it. Remember, you have the power to help your child turn this traumatic and degrading experience into one of self-growth and empowerment, through support and synergy.

For further help with bullying and the effects please call us at Meaningful Minds Psychologists at 011 615 1030/ 081 759 4849 or send us an email

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