Is your child a bully or being bullied? Here’s what to do
Bullying is a growing problem and some children face the threat of abuse from the first days they walk into the schoolyard.
Schools officially have no tolerance for bullying or violence, but young children may not fully understand what bullying is, or if they are in fact the bully — that their behaviour is wrong.
So, what can parents do if their child is the bully or the target?
What is bullying?
It’s not just physical violence. And not all physical violence is necessarily bullying.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) says bullying can include hitting, pushing, name calling, deliberately excluding people and teasing.
One way to recognise bullying is when a child often feels scared or hurt when they are around certain children.
Bullying in younger grades is growing, and so is the violence.
Since 2013, more than 4,300 children in Queensland have been suspended or excluded from Prep and almost 9,000 have been forced to go home while in Year One.
Across Australia there are more than half-a-million bullies in classrooms who deliver more than 45 million incidents of abuse or intimidation every year.
For the 910,000 students who are targets of bullies, it adds up to more than one incident for every week they are in school.
How do I help my child if they are a bully?
Set boundaries and follow through. That’s the first step.
The APS has eight tips for parents with children who may be bullying or intimidating others.
They range from explaining to them what bullying is, and why it isn’t acceptable, through to finding a program to help manage their behaviour.
Bullying behaviour in children can grow out of family issues, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, but it also emphasised that not all bullies come from broken homes or unhappy families.
Research from 2008 says they also come from loving, accepting and nurturing family environments.
The AIFS also found that sometimes the behaviour is inspired by other kids who act as co-bullies, supporters, or even an audience.
It also found that children who came from families where they suffer harsh punishment are more likely to bully others.
But maybe confusingly, children who believe their parents are figures of authority — but who are also very support of them — are less likely to bully.
Child therapist Jonothon McLoughlin said while children learnt a lot of their behaviour from their parents, they could be influenced from elsewhere too.
“We learn from parents, we learn from schools, we learn from media. We learn from a lot of influencing factors and they all play a part,” Mr McLoughlin said.
In some places, parents are offered anti-bullying training too which helps them to better work with their children.
Tips for parents whose child may be bullying
- Supervise them closely when they are with other children
- Explain what bullying is, and why it isn’t acceptable
- Talk to your child about how the bullying affects others. The goal is to help them understand how the other child might feel: “How would you feel if you were feeling bullied?”
- Ask them what they think might help them stop bullying
- Show them how to play and interact with other kids in a friendly way.
- Make clear rules and consequences. Once you lay down these rules, make sure you follow through.
- Praise your children when they do play well with others
- Find a group program that helps them manage their behaviour
Source: Australian Psychological Society
Originally Published by ABC News, continue reading here.