Supporting Your Child Through Bullying: Why Parent-Child Connection Matters
What can we as parents do for our children if they're involved in bullying?
Psychologist, Family Therapist, Mom of the Island students
If bullying is a case at school, our main concern is often related to school stuff: how my child can be protected and how the bullying is going to be prevented. Parents of students who are reported to bully other children are often moved to become more strict, have lectures at home, and scold or even punish their children. In this article I'd like to highlight something that should be prior to whatever disciplinary actions we take. And at the same time, most of our disciplinary actions won't have the desired outcome if that "something" is missing. I'm going to talk about the importance of parents' connection with their children.
Why is the quality of our connection so important if the child is reported to bully others? Bullying is quite often rooted in the child's experience. What is he/she going through? What amount of stress is not manageable for him/her? Why does he/she express the drive to exploit other people's vulnerability through bullying? There's always a reason behind bullying. To understand that reason, to give support and change this dynamic, we first need to set the stage where we could do it. Making connection a priority enables parents to help their children share and process whatever difficulties their children are going through. In most cases, parents becoming a safe place where the child could go significantly relieves the bullying behaviour. A safe place, obviously, implies the absence of harsh criticism, put-downs, shaming, character judgments, ultimatums, etc. To sum it up, for bullies working on the quality of relationships within the family might not be the only thing needed to resolve the bullying issues. However, when the relationship issues remain unattended, the efficacy of other interventions becomes significantly lower.
Talking about the victims, the importance of the parents-children connection is more obvious. Children who suffer from bullying need a lot of support. They need their parents to help them unpack and process the hurtful experience. The emotional support they get is crucial in how that bullying experience will land on them. Specialists who work with psycho-trauma say that the same incident will impact people differently depending on what support they receive. In the seminars we held last week, we covered it in more detail - you can find the guidelines for supporting bullying victims there.
Generally, the best way to cope with bullying is parents & school cooperation. At home we support our kids and work on their emotional well-being. School helps promote it, set the stage for healthy communication, protect potential victims and help actual and potential bullies to be involved in safe interactions.
To know more about bullying watch the seminars run by Daria online for our parents.