The warning signs of bullying are not always obvious. It is reported that more than 3.2 million learners are bullied yearly in South African schools. When children are being physically bullied parents are able to notice differences, such as torn clothing or missing belongings much easier. However, this is not always the case. With the trend of cyberbullying being much more common today, noticing less suggestive signs of bullying can be more difficult. Most children don’t come home from school saying, “I’m being bullied at school every day and I’m really scared and unhappy.”
Here are our 5 tips to help you spot the signs and protect your children – of all ages- from the effects of bullying.
Talk to them
You may notice your child has been withdrawn lately or they may be reluctant to go to school. This happens to be one of the biggest tell-tale signs that your child is being bullied. Approach your child and encourage them to talk about what is bothering them, this will open the door to having a conversation about their experiences at school. Create a space where your child feels that their feelings are safe and valid, this will help them open up to you.
Show you genuinely care
Most parents are often very busy with their own responsibilities, that they completely disregard that their children have their own personal experiences of the world too. When your child is brave enough to talk about what they have been going through; pay attention, listen, show concern and ask questions such as “so what happened next?” or “what did you do then?”.
Notify your child’s teacher
It takes a village to raise a child, so speak to those that can help, for example, your child’s teacher. Set an appointment where you can raise your concerns and discuss the school’s policy on bullying.
Teach your child ways to cope
Teach your child to ignore negativity and let them know that it’s okay to walk away from bullies or those that tease them. Educate your child about setting boundaries for themselves, and learning how to stand up for themselves. Standing up to people who are bullying them in a calm way lets them know that what they’re trying to do isn’t working.
Read more: Beat the bullies
Support your child at home
Build your child’s confidence. The more your child believes in themselves the less likely the bullying will affect their self-esteem. Encourage your child to join the soccer team, netball team or any other extracurricular activity at their school. This will give your child the chance to learn how to socialize with different kinds of children. This will also expose your child to different people; which will, in turn, teach him/her how to handle different social interactions on different levels.