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What to do if your child is being bullied

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bullying, school, bullies
Finding out your son or daughter is the target of bullying is never nice, but what can you actually do to help?

Here we detail how to spot if your child is being bullied, and also the things you can do to help them if they are...

Signs to look for if you suspect your child is being bullied

If you think your child may be being bullied, look out for the following signs:

  • They come home from school with cuts, bruises or torn clothing
  • They're hungry, or have walked home, having had bus fare or lunch money stolen
  • They're unusually moody or withdrawn, or are picking fights at home
  • Their work and grades at school start to slide
  • They're reluctant to go to school, insist on being driven there, or pretend to be unwell
  • Their eating habits change, or they aren't sleeping well


  • How to help your child if they're being bullied

    Encourage your child to get a friend or adult they can confide in, no matter what. Persuade them that asserting themselves through language is good. For instance, if a bully calls them names, encourage them to say something like: 'I like being different'.

    Using humour can help, too. Explain to them that saying something funny or plain outrageous throws bullies off balance. If they're worried about being picked on outside, suggest they take another route through the playground/park to avoid a bully.

    If the put-down is about clothing or a toy, tell them to agree with the bully as a way of diffusing the situation.

    The Anti-Bullying Alliance offers the following advice:

  • Bullying is not your fault. It is always wrong and you do not have to put up with it
  • Let someone know what is happening as soon as possible. Talk things through with a friend, your family, or your teachers
  • Do not do or say anything in response to the bully. Stay calm and remove yourself from the situation wherever possible. If it is happening through your phone or the internet, keep a copy of the messages or images but do not reply or respond
  • Keep a note or a diary of what is happening
  • Be confident - you have done nothing to deserve this
  • Be assertive
  • You could say ‘This is not funny. This is bullying. This is wrong'
  • Think who can help you - young people or adults
  • Seek help from other young people e.g. school might have a peer mentor or buddy scheme
  • Say to someone ‘Please would you watch what is happening here' and ask them to help you report the incident
  • Sometimes it can help to talk to someone outside of the situation


  • As mentioned above, some experts suggest showing your child how to face bullies with confidence. This can include teaching them to project a positive, assertive attitude and walk with confidence, while moving away from people who they think might cause trouble.

    It can also be useful to role play situations to help your child know what to do if they are approached by a bully. Give them encouraging, positive feedback to help their confidence, and offer tips on how to ignore anyone being mean to them and who to tell if they do have a problem.

    Want to know more? Sue Ormersher, Senior Press Officer from Family Lives gives her 10 best tips on how to beat the bullies.

    If, after reading the below, you're still worried about your child then don't hesitate to contact Bullying UK, part of Family Lives. They provide support and advice for families experiencing all sorts of bullying problems.

    Expert tips for beating bullying



    1. Keep calm: your first reaction may be anger, but you can't let your child see this. They need to be reassured and may be less likely to trust you again, if you get irate.

    2. Talk to your child: let them know you're there for them and that you love them, and don't pressurise them into talking to you.

    3. Suggest someone else they can talk to: not all kids want to talk to parents, so think of someone else they trust, such as a grandparent, other relative or close friend.

    4. Reassure them: tell your child that it's not their fault and they shouldn't feel ashamed that they're being targeted.

    5. Raise their self-esteem: bullying hits a child's self-confidence, so praise and encourage them at every possible opportunity.

    Dealing with the source of the problem



    1. Have a quiet chat to your child's teacher - either a quick word on the phone or go in before school.

    2. Many schools are very good when it comes to bullying and they'll do a special assembly about it to highlight the problem.

    3. If you don't get anywhere with the school, ask to see a copy of their anti-bullying policy. All schools are legally required to have one.

    4. Then ask to see the headteacher and keep a record of any meetings you have.

    If you're still not happy, try contacting the Chairman of Governors or your Local Educational Authority.

    5. Make a list of all the questions you want to ask and take someone along with you, so you don't miss anything that they may say.

    Continued below...


    If you've got a top tip for other parents whose children are being bullied, to help them deal with it, please let us know in the comments below.

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    Tina

    Alison Cairns,im sat here crying ad want to hug you,i have exactly the same situation going on,its only just spilling into school,i have felt so alone yet when ive asked for help from police etc ive had social services sent round,still struggling through it,and i didnt understand the nastiness people can give off,but hey 2 in the same boat- even down to the father shouting situation and it being accused of my kids lol who havent played out since mid july 2009 its unbeliveable,my sons 14 the other is 13,incidently my son is wanting to "kill himself",very scary time and ive reached out to get him all the help i can

    Alison Cairns

    My son's bullying is mostly in the street - it spilled over into school last year, and they were great. I know the mum of the main instigator but she doesn't believe it - thinks its the other way round because of the difference in size, and she has seen Andrew's reaction to some of the incidents - he gets very angry and frustrated. I know some of this is caused by jealousy - we're fairly new to the street but still at the same school, and I think the other boy sees all the family activities we do and how we, as a family, are very involved in the life of the school. The other family aren't, and the dad is very aggressive - has sworn at my son - these are 9 year old boys! Now, some of the others get involved too - a couple of older boys, who no-one likes, but who pick on Andrew because they'll get a reaction, and some of the younger boys who just copy the others. It got to the stage over the summer where Andrew didn't want to go out. He's got over that, and sticks to those he knows are his friends, but he can't avoid them forver. It breaks my heart, but we just don't know what to do. Andrew shows some real anger, but he's normally so sensitive - cries over films!

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