Whether you're a parent of a bully or a child who's being bullied, it's never a comfortable position to be in.

We’re running a series of blogs focusing on bullying and how it can affect all parties involved: this week we’re focusing on how bullying can affect parents, and how you can help your children navigate the often tense and unpleasant world of bullying, choosing kindness along the way.

What is bullying?

Bullying can take many different forms and with the continued digitisation of our society, there may be forms of bullying that are new or which you do not know about.

Prejudice can take many forms, and whether it is a one-off instance or a repeated series of events, bullying must be recognised and eradicated.

Bullying may be homophobic (based on sexual orientation), sexist (undermining you for being of the opposite sex), and racist (based on your skin colour and background).

What form can it take?

Bullying traditionally takes the form of physical abuse, name-calling, and consistent taunting. However, with so many children having access to a computer or smartphone nowadays, bullying often continues outside the classroom, online.

How should I react if I think my child is being bullied?

There's a 50:50 chance that your child is involved in bullying at school, whether that's as a bully, a witness, or someone who is being bullied. If your child is being bullied, reassure them that it is not their fault. Bullying can happen for all sorts of reasons, and as a parent you should help combat any insecurities they may feel about coming forward.

Bullies often want to provoke a certain reaction in the children they target. Practising scenarios with your child and encouraging them to not give the bully the reaction they want can be beneficial.

All schools are legally required to have an anti-bullying policy in place. You should familiarise yourself with this as it should be freely accessible and up to date, but charging into the school and demanding to see the headteacher or the bully's parents is rarely a helpful reaction as it can cause additional stress and anxiety for your child, potentially making the bullying even worse.

However, you should talk to your school if the bullying continues. Schools will have a range of options to choose from in how they deal with the bully. If you aren't satisfied by the school's response, the Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) offers step-by-step advice on how to deal with the school, from how to write a letter to your options if you need to chance tact. Their advice line is 0300 0115 142. Bullying UK have some great templates that you can use to get in touch with them.

What if my child is the bully?

It can be a very disappointing experience to find out that your child is a bully. You are bound to look introspectively to consider how your relationship with your child is involved, but it's important to distance yourself and realise that their bullying may be a sign of deeper emotional distress.

Your child may be bullying to fit in, to gain attention from their peers or teachers, or maybe they just made a mistake.

Children often don't realise the gravity of their actions. They may not even realise they are bullying, or that the other person is being affected in such a negative way. It's important that, as their parent, you communicate with them and ask them questions so you can understand their motivations and help them to empathise with the child they are bullying.

Encourage your child to look inwards and think about why they're doing what they're doing. Hopefully with your help, they will be able to point to a reason why they feel the need to bully other children, and get to a place where they can stop bullying, apologise, and move to a happier frame of mind.

If you’d like to learn more about how to deal with bullying if it becomes an issue for your children, then head to the websites below to explore further free resources that have helped to inform our blog and understanding of bullying.

NSPCC:

https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/schools/anti-bullying-resources

Young Minds:

https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/feelings-and-symptoms/bullying/

Bullying UK:

https://www.bullying.co.uk/anti-bullying-week/anti-bullying-week-resources/

Anti-Bullying Alliance:

https://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/schools-and-teachers/top-tips-teachers-and-school-staff/abas-top-tips-teachers

Our next blog will focus on how children can deal with bullies at school.