It is very upsetting as a parent to see your child unhappy, and to feel as if you are unable to help her deal with her problems. In some circumstances, this is because your child is being bullied at school and the school has not solved it internally. In this situation it is common to feel angry and powerlessness about the situation.
In these difficult times, you need to look for positive and proactive ways to approach the problem.
Children who complain about being bullied are by definition vulnerable to aggression and negative behaviour and have not sufficient resilience or self-confidence to stick up for themselves or avoid conflict. As a parent try to understand what your child’s school is doing to deal with the specific problem.
In addition, there are positive things you can do at home to encourage your child to develop the self-respect and determination to resist personal attacks. The theory is that more practical tasks and good role modelling with parents at home, can work to improve children’s outlook on life and their ability to cope with difficult situations with their peers at school.
Here are 11 recommendations for what you can do at home to help build their self-confidence and resilience.
It is hard to know what is going on at school unless you speak to the adults who work directly with your child. The first point of call is to talk with your child’s teacher in a primary school or to the form tutor in a secondary or high school. They are the people who will know her most and should be able to tell you what has been going on. Indeed in some instances, it is the teachers who may have witnessed the behaviour of others in the class with your child, and will be most likely to want to share with you what has been going on.
If you have already developed a good relationship with these teachers, then the issues raised may be able to be dealt with amicably, and you can share with them the ideas you have for increasing your child’s resilience and self-confidence at home. With both the school and the home working proactively to address bullying, it is more likely that she will be encouraged to resolve their difficulties or address any unacceptable behaviour.
However, if circumstances are such that you are not happy with the response from the teachers directly involved with your child, it is essential that the next step is taken to bring the issue to the attention of the Headteacher. If this is required, first check the school’s website to download the published policies for supporting children’s health and well-being, and for addressing instances of bullying. These documents are scrutinised by school governors and assessed for their efficacy in Ofsted inspections in the UK, for example. They are guidelines for behaviour management to ensure that children attending the school have the best support available from staff to feel secure and happy within the confines of the school. These documents also inform parents what the school will do if children are being bullied and how the school will involve parents in seeking solutions to such health and well-being issues.
It is essential to engage the headteacher at a planned meeting, armed with these documents as well as prepared information about what you believe has been going on for your child, and a list of questions and suggestions about what you would like to achieve. Be confident in the defence of yourselves and your child, and listen and respond with interest to what the headteacher has to say.
You can take someone with you if you feel uncomfortable or need help with speaking English.
The most important element of the meeting is to end it by agreeing on a list of objectives for the school to follow which you believe will support your child and help improve her experience and emotional well-being.
Also, agree that you will continue to work with the school by supporting your child at home. It is essential that a follow-up meeting is set so that the situation in respect of the behaviour of other children and the response of the teachers concerned is monitored.
Matters which have been unresolved at lower levels of the staffing structure should be sorted to your satisfaction with the leader of the school. In some cases, parents may have to approach school governors to seek suitable redress. It is really important for parents not to lose their focus or resolve. As a parent, you are an advocate for your child and you need to do all you can to support her effectively. In some cases working with institutions can be tiring and drawn out. Take courage and do what you think is best for your child.