By Ann Douglas, Canadian Red Cross social media ambassador, mother and author
 
Your child is being bullied. You want to do everything you can to help her to feel safe and loved, but you’re not quite sure what to do or what to say.
 
Here are a few tips.
 
Help her to feel less scared and alone
 
Let your child know that you take the bullying problem seriously, that she has your support, and that she doesn’t have to solve this problem on her own. She needs to know how much you care about her and that you’ll do everything in your power to help.
 
Help her to figure out how to respond
 
Teach her how to respond to a bully (by using humor that doesn't put down the bully) and how to reduce her odds of being bullied in future (by coming across as a less vulnerable target, because bullies are notorious for picking on kids who come across as physically or emotionally vulnerable).
 
Help her to develop her relationship skills so that she is less vulnerable to being bullied in future. Talk about the fact that conflict in relationships is normal and that relationships can be repaired. And teach her to ask for help in a way that encourages the other person to want to help.
 
Help her to see that things can get better

Reassure your child that life won’t always be this difficult or this painful. Then start taking action to begin to make things better for her, starting right now.

  • Arrange to meet with your child's teacher. The school needs to know what is going on so that school staff can keep their eyes and ears open and be prepared to intervene when they suspect that bullying may be taking place. Your child needs to know where she can go and whom she can talk to if she is being bullied physically (pushing, hitting), emotionally (name-calling, spreading of rumors), or socially (by being shunned by the group). You might also want to inquire about the types of anti-bullying programs offered by the school. Kids need to learn how to prevent incidents of bullying (by dealing with the underlying issues that can otherwise result in bullying) and how to defuse bullying situations when they first occur—by refusing to give the bully an audience

  • Compare notes with other parents at your child's school. Find out if any of their kids have had problems with bullying. Talk about ways to work together to deal with bullying at school, on the school bus, and online so that you can curb bullying together.

  • Find someone you can talk to about how you're feeling. It's painful to watch your child be bullied. You need an outlet for your feelings so that you can stay strong for your child.
Find out more:  Ann Douglas is the mother of four children, ages 19 through 28, all of whom struggled with one or more mental health, neurodevelopmental, and/or behavioural challenges during their growing up years. She details her family’s experiences and shares the best advice from 50 other parents in her latest book Parenting Through the Storm: How to Handle the Highs, the Lows, and Everything in Between (www.anndouglas.net).