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Mike Cooper interviews Sue Anderson

Mike Cooper from Radio 3BA Interviews Sue Anderson on the launch of her new book. Follow the link to listen to the audio.

 How to help your bullied child

 Establish rapport with your child.

When your child feels comfortable talking about bullying with you, they are far more likely to share with you what is going on.  Remember, thirty percent of children tell no one about their bullying experience.  Use your verbal and non-verbal language to support and be there for them.

Get yourself out of the way. 

Check that you are not bringing your beliefs, your assumptions and your experience about bullying and imposing them on your child.  Don’t assume that your child’s experience of bullying is the same as yours.  What you believe about bullying is important to your child.  What state are you in when talking with them about bullying?  Are you anxious, angry, helpless?  Your child will pick up on your state.  Could you be calm, curious and supportive?

Listen, truly listen.

Most children want you to listen, and believe them.  In the first instance, most children do not want you to rush to the school and demand a meeting with the teacher or principal.  Hold the space, get yourself out of the way and listen.  Once your child feels heard, they don’t have to keep repeating themselves. 

Check their beliefs.

If your child believes they can be bullied, they are walking around holding up an invisible sign that says “Come and bully me”.  If your child believes they “Are an easy target”, they probably are.  What your child believes about being bullied, and a target of bullying is key to unlocking how to help them.

Use questions rather than tell.

Aghhhh! Children and teenagers are sick of being told how they should respond to bullying “Just ignore them and they will go away” just does not work.  Instead, ask “How did you choose to feel when XXX said that to you?”  “What did you choose to say or do?  What are some other options?  That way you are letting your child know they have choice. 

Use empowering language.

The three magic words you can teach your children “Choose, choice and chose”.  Teach your children that no one can “make” them feel angry, upset, sad etc.  They can choose to feel angry, upset, sad, etc.  Try using language such as “target” rather than “victim”.  Also, the bully is “trying to bully you”, rather than “bullying you”.  Refer to the bully by their name or as the “bully”, rather than “your bully”.  Your child does not own the bully, or the bully’s behaviors. Your child is NEVER responsible for another child’s decision to bully them.

Thank them for sharing with you.

Thirty percent of children tell no one.  If your child does not tell you, there is probably a very good reason (in their mind).  Reasons may include “I didn’t want to stress Mum or Dad out”, “I will get in trouble because I should have told sooner”, “I thought I could handle it”, “I was hoping it would get better by itself – but it didn’t”, “I didn’t want Mum/Dad to go to the school and make a scene”.

Let your child know Bullying is never OK.

Bullying is NOT a normal part of growing up.  Bullying is never OK.  Let your child know that in the state of Victoria, serious bullying is a crime punishable by up to ten years imprisonment.

Give yourself a break.

Give yourself permission to not have all the answers.  You are not expected to stop another child bullying your child instantly.  You can be a huge support to your child by listening to them, believing them, not judging them, or telling them how they “should” feel.  Love and support them.  Re-assure them -“I will do everything in my power to support you and together we will work through this”.  If you don’t believe you have the power or skills to assist your child, ask for outside help.