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Helping your bullied child
Look out for:
● Fear or refusal to go to school. Frequent
complaints of feeling unwell as a way to
● Unexplained cuts or bruises -- ask for an
● How does your child interact with
peers/friends -- are they withdrawn,
submissive? Be interested, ask about
● Complaints that nobody likes them or
they have no friends. Are they unhappy/
● General anxiety, especially when
confronted with new situations.
● Eating/sleeping problems.
● Habits like nail biting or touching things
● Expressing dislike for an individual or
a desire to pay somebody back. They
may take their anger out on something
indirectly, eg fight with siblings or
become angry with themselves for small
mistakes. Some retaliate and become
● Low self esteem/self confidence, difficulty
How you can help
● Be sensitive to your child's reaction
to questions about being bullied.
Addressing bully-victim issues is a
complex task -- professional support and
advice may be needed.
● Discuss school -- class, sport, free time,
how they feel about these activities.
● Encourage them to find their own
solutions. Brainstorm and role-play ideas
● Encourage small steps towards goals,
which gradually lengthen, at the child's
pace, as competence and confidence
● Explain that bullying is unacceptable;
every person has a right to be treated
● Remind your child that reporting those
who bully is not "dobbing in". When
bullies are allowed to misbehave,
everyone is a victim.
● Reassure your child that assistance is
available from school staff.
● Encourage them to discuss bullying
issues with their friends -- a unified peer
group is important as bullies rarely target
children in groups.
● Be aware of your child's activities and
ensure adequate adult supervision at all
● Discuss concerns with school officials
-- it is their responsibility to provide a
safe learning environment.
from page 15
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● Do not personally confront bullies -- you
may aggravate the problem.
● Report bullying to school officials even
if your child is not the target. This will
demonstrate to your child that this
behaviour will not be tolerated.
Dr. Anna Cuomo-Granston, Ph.D. (Neurology,
Psychophysiology), M.App.Psych. (Clinical Psychology), has
worked with children who have been bullied and who bully,
and with their parents. Her approach to treatment has primarily
been client focused and cognitive-behaviourally based.
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