How to Handle Bullying

By Psychotherapist Lujia Zhang, Shanghai East International Medical Center 2019-05-23 15:30:30

How common is bullying at school?

It’s very common at school. Sometimes it is easy to recognise: teachers or other guardians may witness kicking, beating or verbal abuse, or notice other credible evidence. However, some kinds of harrassment are less easy to notice, such as isolation imposed by peers.

How can I tell if my child is being bullied at school?

If you know your children well, you can often tell by small changes in their daily behaviour and moods — or if they suddenly refuse to go to school. Children may deny that they are being bullied altogether, due to a feeling of embarrassment. It may take patience and resolve to find out what is going on. Remember that although bullying is common, it can be tricky to deal with. Don’t rush to conclusions or be too hasty in your response — but in real instances of bullying, doing nothing isn’t an option either.

How should I approach the school if my child is being bullied there?

The best way is to contact your child’s homeroom teacher or counselor.

How should I tell my child to respond to bullying?

First, tell your child that they can calmly confront the bully or bullies, refusing to indulge or capitulate, and expressing a firm ‘No’ to their aggression. After this, tell teachers and other professionals at the school.

Should I contact the parents of the child who is bullying my child?

It’s better not to. The best way is to contact your children’s homeroom teachers.

What can I do to help boost my child’s self esteem if he or she is being bullied?

Tell your children it’s not their fault! Having strong self esteem is one layer of defense against victimisation. You can help boost this by showing your child how they have agency in the situation. You can patiently explain how most anxiety of the kind exploited by bullies is based on trivial differences that only loom large when one is very young. With time and mature growth, a lot of worries can be overcome. Added to this is a sense of the value of different kinds of people; when we are young, we can find it harder to see the full range of human potential. It maytake some people longer than others to come out of their shells and show skill or merit. Courage and self esteem can also be boosted by life-affirming challenges that take place outside of school, in a different social context, or perhaps in nature, putting daily worries into a new perspective.

What kind of support does my child need from me if he or she is being bullied?

After sharing the basics, contact the school on behalf of your children and ask how to follow procedure as a parent — check up with the school later on to see if they are doing their part to stop it.

Are there any additional resources available to me or to my child regarding bullying?

Usually schools have all kinds of brochures for parents and students regarding bullying topics. Ask the teachers or school counselors for more information if you need it.

Having strong self esteem is one layer of defense against victimization. You can help boost this by showing your child how they have agency in the situation.

Lujia Zhang

Psychotherapist and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor

Lujia Zhang received her Bachelor of Medicine in China in 2001 and a Master’s Degree in Counseling in the USA in 2007. She has over 11 years of clinical psychotherapy and counseling experience, both in the USA and China. Mrs. Zhang helps individuals, couples, families and groups, including children, young adults and adults. She has helped younger sufferers with Behavioural Problems, Social Problems, Phobias, Anxiety, Depression, School Problems, Substance Abuse issues, ADHD, OCD and a variety of other conditions, and adult patients with diverse problems.