RVA Parenting: Talking about bullying and when to call for help

Published: Oct. 1, 2015 at 4:45 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2015 at 8:11 PM EDT
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(WWBT) - Bullying is a cruel reality, that many children face now. Seeing your child suffer at the hands of a bully can be devastating. It's important to know how to talk to your child so that you can show support, and so that you can teach them the right tools to deal with the problem.

"We all go through it," Dr. Martin Buxton, a psychiatrist at Chippenham Hospital, said. " I think it's important to understand that depending on the developmental age of the child, how devastating it could be. What would seem to be a slight and significant insult to an adult, could be devastating to a child."
Make sure your child has a say. That doesn't mean your child necessarily gets to decide what happens, but give them a voice in the matter. Also, research your options. Sometimes, a school counselor can help, or a PTA member.

Also, if your child is one of the victims, you may be worried about having the right response.

Here's how to know when it's time to call in the professionals:

  • If you see your child's openness to life is changing.
  • If he or she doesn't want to go out, is showing signs of depression, isolated him or herself, is withdrawing, even regressing--those are signs that certainly, something has to be done.

"I think the parents response is going to determine whether lines of communication are open," Buxton said. "If the parents have a shaming response, not even that they intended to be shaming, but why didn't you fight back or why'd you do those sorts of things. It's going to cut the child off and he really can't talk about it and to be able to talk about it. Sometimes, a therapist  is needed because it's a neutral person, an adult."
Be careful not to have a shaming response, for example, don't ask your child, "Well, did you fight back?"

Your child needs to feel loved and supported, and your reaction could be critical to keeping the communication lines open.

Finally, don't be afraid to take technology away at night, and give your child a break from the cyberspace that may be hurting them.

"Cyber bullying is a whole new wrinkle in this event," Buxton said.

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