Aspire to Believe CIC

 

As a parent, our children, their happiness and safety will always come first. We strive for our children to succeed and that as a big part of their childhood; they have a happy experience at school. Therefore we expect schools to provide an environment that is emotionally and physically safe for our children.

A fear we will always have, is that of our child being hurt, bullied or struggling to make friends. When our child comes home and shares their upset and fears from their school day our immediate response is to sort it out immediately and maybe to punish the people who caused your child to be hurt, embarrassed or scared. After all this is your child and their happiness is paramount. It's normal to feel terrified and enraged about any kind of threat to your children's well being, especially in a place where they have to be.

It is important at this time that you are clear about what has happened. Is it bullying or is it a friendship issue? Often, it is an issue with friends and if children are left to deal with it you will tend to find that in most cases the problem is sorted the next day by your child and their friend(s). Remember it becomes bullying when it is repeated behaviour over a period of time.

If it helps keep a note of some of the things that are happening and you may find very quickly whether it is bullying, having a pattern of regular, repeated incidents will ascertain this.

Schools are often doing an excellent job of trying to meet an overwhelming array of conflicting demands. But when your own child is being bullied, it is normal for parents to want to fix the problem immediately. However you need to be careful not to take matters into your own hands, challenging the other child's parent often makes the problem worse and if it is more of a friendship issue, you falling out with the other parent will start a feud, one where your child will be dragged into even if they want to make friends again. This is a great opportunity to teach your child how to deal with a situation in a positive and respectful manner.

This also should be taken into consideration when approaching school. Often people mirror behaviours, so if you approach school aggressively or if you act upset when you're approaching school officials or the parents of children who are bothering your child, they're likely to become defensive. You will be more successful in solving the problem if you remain calm and open minded, most schools truly want to address problems that affect the wellbeing of their pupils. They're far more likely to respond positively to parents who are approaching them in a calm and respectful way. However, no matter how good a job you do, some people will react badly when they're first told about a problem. Don't let that stop you - stay composed and be firm about explaining what the issue is and what you want to see happen.

In the event that you feel it is bullying you need some positive ways to be able to deal with the situation quickly and successfully. Below you will find some advice for you to follow to help you and your child.

 1.    Listening
Your child will want to share their problem with you but often will shy away if they don't know how to tell you, feel you are too busy or may react in a way that they do not want you to. Don't be judgmental or lecture them, remember this may be hard for them to share. Look for little signs that show you your child has a problem for example a change in their behaviour. Make time to sit down and listen to them, let them talk and try hard not to put words in their mouth.

 2.    Your reaction
How many of us remember the school bully that made our life unbearable? The one that stole our belongings, ridiculed all that we did, made us feel different, scared, unhappy? We may even have the memories of the fight they challenged us to and how we ran away and hid as we knew we would loose, or maybe the fight did happen and we were badly hurt? Remember those emotions???? Okay - this is where as a parent we can make our first mistake by installing our own childhood fears on our children.  Instead practice taking a deep breath and sitting with your child quietly with no distractions, be strong in your reaction ensuring that you reassure them and make them feel that together, you will sort this out. This is your opportunity for you to model to your child how to be powerful and respectful. Your time to share your own memories is not with your child or in front of your child but later with another adult.

 3.    Get your facts right
It is very important that you get your information right. In a clear and calm way ask your child for their side of the story. You need to be clear about where it happened, who was involved, who may have seen what happened and what your child did next. It often helps to make a few notes as sometimes we can forget important parts that would help another investigate thoroughly. These notes could be wrote during or after speaking with your child, but if you write notes whilst your child is with you, make sure you reassure them that the notes are to help you remember and to make sure you do not miss anything out.

 4.    The full picture
This is the point where you need to ensure you know if there is a bigger picture. As a parent we would not want to ever think that our child has done something wrong, or antagonized a situation. However from time to time this can happen. Your child may feel nervous about telling you what else may have happened, that they may have had a part to play or it may be that they do not realise that their own actions could have made the situation worse. Plenty of reassurance, hugs and remaining calm will go a long way in helping your child tell you the full story.

 5.    The next step

This is where you need to approach the school. In the first instance you need to speak to the class teacher or form teacher if secondary. Ask questions such as have they noticed anything different with your child, have they seen anything happening, has your child said anything. Let the teacher know that you feel your child is being bullied. Ask the teacher what they will do to help stop the situation. Ask the teacher to get you a copy of the schools Anti-Bullying Policy. You have a right to see this and most schools will have it posted on their website, by reading this you will be clear of what the procedures are in dealing with bullying. Ask the teacher to feed back to you at the end of each school day.

If you do not feel that the situation is improving despite several chats to the teacher your next step is to speak to the Headteacher. Try to make an appointment if possible, usually the Head will see you within 24 hrs, however on most occasions the Head will be able to see you immediately.

Ensure you take some notes with you, both your own questions and what your child has told you; often parents can find meeting with the Headteacher intimidating purely because of their own memories of school. The Head is there to help and support you and your child and should be able to stop the bullying. If you have not already got a copy of the anti-bullying policy ensure you ask for one at this point.

This should be the end of the bullying but from time to time some parents may feel the Headteacher has not dealt with the situation and you do not feel listened to. At this point you need to put it in writing and send a copy to the governing body of the school. They will need to investigate and will involve you in the process. It is hoped that you never need to do this and that the bullying is dealt with very quickly by the teacher.

Kate Hillyard - Anti Bullying & Behaviour Consultant - Step by Step help for parents

 

 

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