Supporting your child through bullying
Bullying is tough but you can get through this. Here is some practical advice but reach out to us if you need more support.
Spotting the signs of bullying
Some common signs that a child may be experiencing bullying include any change in behaviour (louder, quieter, angrier, sadder); scared to go to school or take part in their usual activities; unexplained illness like tummy bugs and headaches; disturbed sleep; bed wetting; injuries; distress after using phones or tablets, and lost or stolen belongings.
These signs are not universal, and can indicate other things. If you notice a change in your child, create time and space to gently ask how things are going, what they are enjoying/not enjoying and any ways you can help.
If you think your child is being bullied
Don’t panic. It is horrible if you suspect your child is being bullied but you will get through this with the right support. Your child needs you to stay calm.
Create space to talk. We all lead busy hectic lives but children need you to be there if they are going to tell you what’s going on. Sometime a direct question works, but other times it may be helpful to go for a walk, a drive or out for food together and gently ask how they are feeling about life and school. Really listen. Watch their body language and if they don’t open up on that occasion keep creating opportunities until they’re ready. Remember your child will want to protect you, so it may be that they are more willing to open up to other family and friends. This is very normal!
What if they are being bullied?
Reassure. Let your child know this is not their fault, that they can get through this, and together you will sort it out.
Record. Make a note of what has happened where, with who, for how long, and the impact it had on your child. Then keep a diary of events. You could use our bullying log.
Ask your child what they need. Ask them how it is making them feel, and what they most need from you. It’s important your child feels in control of the situation. They may be very fearful of the impact of telling others (e.g. being called a snitch) so work out the best action together.
Get help. If the bullying is happening in school it is vital that you let the staff team know what is happening and the impact it is having on your child. The focus should be on making sure the bullying stops and that your child gets the support they need. We have further advice on communicating with the school effectively.
Consider who else can help. Your child needs support at this time so help them think about other people who can help them. This may be other children or teachers they like and trust. Encourage them to take part in activities that make them feel good about themselves and have friendships outside of school.
Don’t be afraid to see your GP. If the bullying has impacted on your child’s physical or mental health (e.g they are very scared or anxious) talk to your GP.
Things to avoid
Dismissing their experience. Dismissing their experience as “just growing up” or telling them to just ignore it won’t make the bullying stop.
Telling your child to hit back. It is very common to hear parents say they tell their child to hit back if someone has hit them but we would not give this advice to an adult who is hit in the street or in the workplace - so why do we expect children to have to physically defend themselves? Your child may get more hurt, and it also makes it hard for school staff to know who started the fight - you may find that it’s your child that is punished.
Getting angry. It is natural to feel angry and upset if your child is being bullied but taking this out on school staff or other parents won’t stop the bullying. Stay calm so that you can get the help you need for the bullying to stop.
Parent Advice Line
Guidance and support for parents and carers of children facing a bullying situation. Call 020 7823 5430 (Mon-Thurs, 9am-1pm, calls charged at local rate) or email the Parent Support Adviser.
Kidscape log and school contact record
The Kidscape log and school contact record is a simple way to promote open communication with the school and ensure that each bullying incident is recorded.