Having your child bullied at school is one of the biggest fears of parents – and research shows this fear is well founded. Bullying has been described as the most important for mental health of children and adolescents threat.
well-controlled studies show that bullying in primary school increases the risk of serious mental health problems in adolescence and ongoing depression that lead to adulthood.
damned if you do, damned if you do not?
So when parents discover that their child is being bullied, they are right to be concerned. But, what should they do about it? Should tell the school, they approach the parents of another child, or just let your child deal with it?
may be difficult to weigh the conflicting advice sometimes given to parents. Parents desperately want to help your child, but if they jump too quickly to protect your children that can be labeled as over-protective or too lenient.
School authorities often recommend that parents leave school to handle it. This is fine if the school is successful in stopping bullying. However, this is not always the case. Most school programs to address bullying make only modest improvements, leaving some children continue to be harassed.
This could be why we often hear from parents who take matters into their own hands. This can lead to uncertain legal grounds if the parents berate other children and ugly arguments between parents. Clearly neither of these approaches is ideal.
New research on how parents can help their children
Now we know that the association specifically affects the risk of being bullied at school child. A meta-analysis in 2013 concluded that hot, parenting support is a protective factor and negative parenting is a risk factor for children being bullied at school.
Another large well controlled from the UK study showed that having family relations warm support also helps buffer children against the negative emotional consequences of bullying. This means that when children feel supported by their parents, who are less likely to attract intimidation. They also have someone to turn home when things are not going well at school, which helps them cope.
Research has identified two additional ways parents can make a positive difference in children’s relationships with peers :. Parents can train children in social skills and can actively support friends of their children
Parents see children every day so they are ideally placed to help children position find ways to deal with interpersonal relationship problems. Parents can improve social skills of children, which can help children to be accepted by their peers, and support friendships of children by organizing the play-dates and other activities that help children develop a close friendship with children in school. Having good friends in school helps protect children against bullying.
A program of the University of Queensland called “Resilience Triple P” teaches parents to support their children, supporting friendships your child, your child’s coach in social and emotional skills, and communicate effectively with school and other adults.
A total of 111 families were randomized to receive the program or not, and monitored for nine months. Schools both intervention and control families were informed that parents have a concern about bullying.
Compared with families in the control condition, children whose families received Resiliency Triple P showed a greater reduction of victimization, anxiety and depression. Teachers reported the children became better accepted by their peers. School children reported they like best.
Resiliency Triple P involves parents in helping children deal effectively with peer problems. However, if the child’s efforts do not work, or if the child is in danger, parents intensify as advocates for their children.
How parents can help children cope
If your child talks to you about problems with other children at school, this is good news. Very often children do not tell anyone about bullying; you may feel embarrassed or worried about how their parents respond. It is important that when children parents approach a problem, parents stop and listen. If parents become emotionally or over-react, this may discourage children to trust even more.
If a child is not communicating, there are signs that could be bullied at school. These signals include trying to avoid school or social situations, major changes in sensitivity and mood, changes in eating and sleeping, and unexplained physical symptoms. If children are showing any of these patterns, parents could ask children carefully how things are going in different areas of your life.
Regardless of whether a child is being bullied, it is important that parents help their children’s friends, as an investment in mental health of children in progress and welfare. This means making time for children to catch up with friends and meet other parents as a way to support your child relationships.
When children are upset by the behavior of other children, parents can provide a valuable sounding board. They can help children to interpret situations and decide what to do.
Very often, the problems can be solved if the child can fend for themselves calmly. Parents can help children practice how to do this.
Parents can also help children learn to ignore minor problems, strengthen friendships with kind children, resolve ongoing conflicts and get help from a teacher when necessary.
Approaching the school and other adults
If a child is unable to cope with a worrying problem themselves, it is important that parents communicate to the child. If your child has problems at school, parents should first contact the child’s school. This approach would involve the child’s teacher if the problem is with another child in the class, or perhaps the direction of the center if the problem is broader.
is important when you approach the school for parents to plan carefully what they mean. Schools can easily become defensive about the issue of bullying. It is important that parents remain calm and explain exactly what happened and how it affected your child. The parent may request help in improving the situation and then see how it goes this time.
There are other adults who may be supervising children when bullying occurs. Parents may need to have conversations with staff after school care, sports coaches, scout leaders and dance teachers.
The situation is a little more sensitive if problems occur when the child is being supervised by friends or relatives. The same principles apply however – you need to seek help from another adult calmly without blaming them or put your child on the floor. Sometimes this can start recognizing children are having problems -. And suggesting it could work together to help them
Overall it is a risky move to approach the parents of another child in bullying school your child, if you do not already have a good relationship with them. His approach is unlikely to improve things and can lead to a heated conflict. This may worsen the relationship between children, so it is more difficult for the school to solve the problem.
What if it does not work?
Sometimes, despite the best efforts of parents to support their children and seek help from the school, the bullying continues. Ongoing intimidation poses an unacceptable risk to any child.
If your child is experiencing the continued anguish of bullying, and the school is not concerned that despite its requests, consider other options -. Including going to higher education authorities and reporting cases of physical or cyberbullying assault to the police
Parents should also consider whether another school could provide a better option for your child, but it is important to involve the child in this decision.
Author: Karyan Healy, Program Coordinator (psychologist), Crianza program resilience Triple P and the Center for Family Support, the University of Queensland
Courtesy: The Conversation