What should parents do to help?
Published 29/11/2011 | 06:00
Although parents play a critical role, says Signe Whitson, they often don't know when to step in if a daughter is having trouble with friends.
"The ideal role of the parent is not to march into the school or call the other kids' parents. I think a parent's most important role is to be a source of support to their child at home."
•Be aware of what is going on and know that bullying today is different to what it was in your time, she says.
•Support your child -- believe them when they tell you what is going on, do not dismiss their experiences.
"Listen to them -- kids just want to feel heard and understood."
•Teach your child how to anticipate situations and how to handle them.
"There are specific things, like how to stand up for yourself, how to express yourself assertively. Some children may feel they should insult back if they are insulted but it isn't right either being passive and letting someone bully you over and over."
•Teach your child to tell an adult.
"There's a difference between tattling, which is where you are trying to get someone into trouble, and reporting when you are trying to keep yourself or someone else safe."
•If your child is being excluded in school encourage her to sort it out with her friends or suggest that they talk to the teacher or someone they feel comfortable with, says Nicola Erasmus, child development and behaviour specialist and parenting coach.
"Very often parents will march up to the school and complain and the principal or the teacher is left to sort it out, but it is very important for parents to take the responsibility for teaching children how to deal with exclusion, anger management or assertiveness. Marching up to the principal's office should be the last resort."
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