Talking to your Child about Bullying

Talking about Bullying is one of the best solutions. Bullying thrives in silence and ignorance.

In Case your child is not talking to you

If you have been busy and out of touch with your child you may not be able to get anywhere with them. There are many reasons why a child may not want to speak to you about bullying. They may be worried about your reaction. They know how busy you are and do not want to cause you stress. They may be concerned it will make things worse. Of course being bullied is difficult but better than being a rat or a tattle tale.  

You may need to start more slowly and build your relationship and get your child talking to you before you can have a conversation about Bullying. This will let them know you are listening before you move into more sensitive conversation.

If you are not sure...maybe noticed warning signs or someone has said something to you. Simply ask...Are you being bullied?   Have you been bullying someone else?

Start by tuning in

Especially if your child was keeping the bullying a secret for whatever reason it is important to be respectful of your child and make this about them not about you.

1) Beware your ego: It might pop up and try and make this about you. Especially if you experienced bullying or were a bully as a child.

2) Beware of the Truth: Recognize there are mulitple sides to the issue. There are the facts about what happened, there is your childs' perception and then there is also the perception  of others.

3) Beware of your Attachment: No Doubt your first response is a knee jerk reaction to help your child. It is normal. However, we are here to guide our children not do it for them. We have to let go of our attachment and be there for our children.

4) Beware of your judgement: We all have a sense of what is right and wrong and a tendency to judge things. Remember, if we judge our children whether they are bullied or are the bully we create labels that make it more difficult to deal with the bullying.

So, clear your mind being conscious of the above and letting them go. Stop what you are doing, look at your child and allow them to tell you about the bullying. You need to focus on what they are saying and not worry about what your response will be. 

Talking about bullying

 If you believe your child is in danger the information you collect from them will help you approach the school, child advocacy or even police if the bullying is severe enough. However, the majority of bullying is not that severe and you can work out solutions with your child.

Once you have a sense they are comfortable you can ask more direct questions about bullying and get the specific details. Make sure you take notes so if it becomes necessary for you to  advocate for your child you have all the details required.

You begin by working with them to help them figure out what is going on and how they feel about it. At this time you are not trying to solve the problem. You just want to get them talking.

  • What happened?
  • Has this happened before?
  • How often has this happened?
  • How do you feel when it is happening?
  • How is that for you?
  • Can you describe the feelings?
  • What did you do?
  • What did they do?
  • Was anyone else involved?
  • Did anyone else see or hear what was happening?
  • What is the most difficult part of this?
  • What does it mean to you when…

Notice they are all what and how questions…No Why….not Who…although at some point if this escalates…the who will have to be addressed.

Remember no matter the question give the child the space to answer and avoid over reacting, under-reacting, blaming, philosophizing or preaching. Your job is to listen and keep them talking.

Listening is the key

AND …again Listen…don’t dismiss it and don’t start nashing your teeth and get on the phone to the principal or fire off a nasty email….just listen.

Keep asking questions and listening…help them identify any further feelings and just let them vent. 

In some circumstances this is the best way to help. Just give them the Gift of listening to them. Active listening is challenging and requires you to stay focused on the person. 

Once they have had a chance to get it all out you may notice they sit a little taller like a weight has been lifted.  You can then work towards closing the conversation and going though a problem solving process keeping in mind listening may be all that is required.

There are many great solutions out their to support your child in coping with this issue. Some are great ideas and really work….Others actually make the bullying worse. However, You can never go wrong encouraging your child to talk to you and giving them your time to listen. 

Ending your talk about bullying

To help your child get closure with or without taking further action you can ask questions like: 

  • What is clearer to you now?
  • Does this all make more sense?
  • What is your understanding of the situation now that we have talked?
  • How do you feel about the situation now?
  • Has this been helpful to you? How?

Acknowledge and appreciate the courage it took to open up to you about Bullying.  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 no matter the subject.

At this point you can end the conversation or  if your child is in need of support and guidance to consider solutions you can assist with a problem solving process. 

Unless this is a matter for the police or the situation is putting your child at risk there is no need for any further action from you. 

Find bullying solutions 

Back to top of Talking about Bullying

Back to 7 Problems: Home Page

More parenting advice

Is your child in danger?

More Communication Tips


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.


[?]Subscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!
  • Add to My MSN
  • Subscribe with Bloglines