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Bullies are the ones with the problems

A reader worries about how to help her son deal with school bullies.

QUESTION:

My eight-year-old son is being bullied. I have complained to the school. They are following up.

I don’t know whether to encourage him to fight back or ignore it. How can I help him build resilience or at least not suffer long term effects? Should I take him to counselling?

I want to call the parents of the child who is bullying. I feel, as parents, we can better deal with this. I’m very confused.

ANSWER:

The panel does not recommend approaching the bully’s parents. This rarely helps and can cause additional problems. Maintain contact with the school, discuss with them what actions they intend to take. Nowadays schools are much more aware of this kind of behaviour, and many have a teacher or school counsellor trained in dealing with this distressing problem.

You can help by using every opportunity to build and reinforce your son’s sense of self-worth. Explain that bullies are the people with the problems. Bullying is their way of trying to establish how important they are.

Be guided by the school in ways to help your son develop some strategies. Walking away, refusing to react and, sometimes, just standing his ground can help.

If the bullying continues and you are worried about your son’s increased signs of distress, you could consider talking to a child psychologist. Your GP can advise you about this.

A stranger able to gain the child’s trust, and who is not emotionally involved can often be more successful than those close to the child.

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