One of the best ways to deal with bullying is to develop your ability for starting conversations with your child and really learn to communicate with them on a deeper level.
If you have a good rapour with your child and you chat with them on a daily basis these tips may help and make it easier to deal with more serious issues.
If you have found your child is not speaking to you ...this is a great place to start.
It seems one day they are rambling on and on and you can’t keep up with them… They chat away non-stop. You wish they would stop if only for a minute. Then the next day you notice all the rambling has been replaced with an eery quiet. They have a problem and now you need them to talk to you but they are distant. Being able to start a conversation could be a life saver...literally.
If this is an emergency, your child or someone else could be at serious risk please take appropriate action. Call police, call the school, get child advocacy involved. Whatever action is required to prevent someone from being harmed.
However, if you notice subtle changes in your child and/or you review the warning signs and think there might be a problem or you just want to build your communication and your relationship with your child the following pointers and questions will help.
So, how do you get them to speak to you? How do you get the conversation started?
My suggestion is to start by creating opportunities to talk by setting it up as part of a routine:
Life is so busy. It is okay to multi task but you want to make sure if they say something that requires more attention you let them know the two of you will make time later so you can really listen to them.
Also, you want this to be casual…Not an inquisition. If it has been awhile they may take some time to warm up to the idea. Be consistent and patient. In the beginning, you may get the rolling of the eyes…or "Really?" ... but if you stick to it…every day…they will realize you are serious and one day the conversation begins.
Here are a few questions to get you started.
Note how these are open questions and cannot be answered with a yes, no, good, bad response.
You can keep the conversation going by simply encouraging them by saying:
One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is your time. Take the time to ask and really listen and this will set up the rapour you need to be able to tackle some of the more difficult issues like bullying.
Depending on the conversation that is probably enough. Just let them speak while you actively listen.
Some topics will require a little more. You need a way to close the conversation and help your child reflect and understand. Totally not necessary talking about what you had for lunch but with deeper issues like friendship, bullying, or any topic that has feelings involved you will want to take a moment to help your child get closure by simply asking the following questions:
Acknowledge and appreciate the courage it took to speak to you about their feelings. Make sure you tell them how much you appreciate everything they have shared with you. Reassure them you are there for them and would like them to be able to speak to you... about bullying, sex, drugs, no matter the subject.
This leaves the door open for your child to be able to talk to you in the future.
More suggested reading: