Title: Worried your child is being bullied? Some thoughts on ways to start a conversation
After being inspired by the Anti-bullying Alliance live Q&A for parents/carers that took place on the Tuesday of antibullying week, we thought we’d share some thoughts on possible ways to start a conversation with your child if you are worried that they are being bullied.
- Use curious language – curiosity and wonder is the language of children (Remember all those ‘But why…. questions!). Using statements like the following may help to get the ball rolling when difficult conversations need to be had “I wonder whether you are finding something tricky just now”, “I wonder if there’s something going on that’s making you feel ‘not OK’?”, “Maybe you have uncomfortable feelings that are a bit stuck?” “Might it help to talk to me about your uncomfortable feelings – I try to find someone I can trust to talk to when I have uncomfortable feelings”.
- Use an age-appropriate story – stories can help to educate children about lots of things in a way that is playful and entertaining. They can also help to start a conversation e.g. “Can you think of a time when you felt the same way as ‘X’ in the story?” Using stories from when you were a child can remind them that you really do understand and that they’re not alone with their worries and concerns e.g. “When I was younger, I was sometimes lonely at playtime too….”.
- Use play – so much can come out when children are free to play. Coming alongside them as they play and noticing what they are doing or what they are saying can be a great way to start a conversation. Art and creativity is another great resource, particularly for older children.
- Find time to talk – talking face to face can feel very intense for some children. Take the tension away by grabbing an opportunity to talk on a car journey or on a dog walk rather than sitting opposite one another and trying to engage face to face.
- Help them remember some positive things about themselves – telling your child some things that you love about them and reminding them what they’re good at and what people like about them can really help to build their positivity if they’re feeling left out and lonely.
- Listen attentively – try to give your child the space and time to get their story out without interruption. It can be difficult not to jump in with solutions and ways to fix things, but sometimes just hearing their story is enough to enable them to come to their own conclusion about what might be the best thing to do.
If your child tells you directly that they are being bullied, remind them that they are brave to tell you and reassure them that they have done the right thing by speaking out. Remind them that it is never OK to be bullied and ask what you can do to help fix it. If your child is very young it may be more appropriate to tell them that you now have their worry and that you are going to fix it. You can also encourage your child to be resilient by letting the unkind things ‘bounce off’ them. At Making Me we encourage children to think positive thoughts or do an activity that they love to help them build their resilience when things are tricky.
These are just some initial thoughts and ideas to help if you are concerned that your child might be being bullied. If you need more support on this topic, please go to: www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk where you’ll find lots more help and resources.