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Is your child being bullied?

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‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ – sound familiar? It may be advice we heard from our parents or that we have given to our own children, but we all know it simply isn’t true. When we think of bullying, most will conjure up an image of children at school getting picked on in the playground, but the rise in popularity of social media sites, now means that some children are subjected to cyber bullying even when they are in the security of their own home or some children are simply bullied at home. Whilst many of the older generation will claim ‘its character building’, the reality is, bullying can have an enormous effect on a young person’s development and in the most extreme cases, tragic consequences.

Look for signs

Some children may feel embarrassed admitting they are being bullied and may not feel comfortable talking to a parent, but there are some signs to look out for. As well as physical marks and bruises, you may notice your child is unusually withdrawn and depressed, take no interest in activities that would normally excite them and is spending more time alone without friends. They may also become clingy, afraid to be left alone and doesn’t want to attend school or after-school clubs. Have you noticed a loss of your child’s personal belongings – stationary, PE kit, lunch money, school books or more expensive electronic devices or mobile phones? You may see a change in their eating habits or even start to bully younger siblings and there may be a significant fall in grades at school. Some or all of these things may suggest your child is the victim of bullying.

Bullying

Ask a teacher if they know if your child is being bullied

Speak to a teacher or adult who you can trust and who knows your child. Have they noticed any changes in them recently or aware of any issues that may be affecting them? If you have access to your child’s Facebook, Bebo or Twitter account, check they aren’t the victim of cyber bullying. If they are, then show them how to block and report bullies, adjust their privacy settings and only share information with people they know and trust. If you are still unsure but concerned, you may wish to try and speak to one of your child’s friends, they too may be worried and be able to tell you more than what your child is willing to. Finally, sometimes silence speaks the biggest volume, tune into their body language and trust your parental instincts.

If you know your child is being bullied, the last thing you as a parent will want to do is make matters worse, this is one of the biggest reasons a child will suffer alone and not tell you in the first instance. Listen to your child; be open, empathetic and supportive. Your gut reaction may be to march out the door, find the bully and give them a piece of your mind, but don’t! Don’t react strongly, reassure them you are there and on their side and will face it together as a family.

Empower your child

Never blame your child for what is happening to them. Suggesting they may ‘bring it on themselves’ or are ‘too sensitive’ isn’t helpful. However, teaching your child how to react may be a better way of focusing their attention. Bullies tend to pick on people they will get a reaction from or whom they see as weak. Empower your child; coach them on being strong and proud of who they are and not to react to the bully. Suggest they start activities they are good at to build their confidence and self-worth again and make sure school are aware of what is happening. Meet with them to find out what measures they have in place and steps they are taking to stop bullying.

Our future is often shaped by our experiences in younger years, so let’s stand up together and give our children confidence and courage to beat the bullies and be proud of whom they are. Growing up is tough, there is no doubt about that, but no-one should have to put up with bullying.

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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