10 Tips to Help Your Child Navigate Bullying and Friendship Challenges

10 Tips to Help Your Child Navigate Bullying and Friendship Challenges

What is Bullying?

Bullying is when someone deliberately and repeatedly hurts another person emotionally and/or physically. Some examples of “overt bullying” include teasing, saying mean things, name calling, pushing, hitting and damaging property. Some examples of “covert bullying” include deliberately ignoring someone, leaving them out of activities, encouraging other peers to exclude them, spreading rumours, embarrassing them, and asking for money. 


Bullying can happen face to face and online (Cyberbullying). All bullying is hurtful and can cause long-lasting harm on a person’s emotional wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence.


Signs of Bullying in Children

Changes in behaviour: 

  • Sudden mood swings or emotional changes
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, or activities they once enjoyed
  • Unexplained changes in sleep or eating pattern

Physical Symptoms:

  • Unexplained injuries or damage to personal belongings
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches

Academic Issues:

  • A sudden decline in academic performance
  • Reluctance to attend school or participate in class activities
  • Feeling unhappy or anxious before or after school

Social Isolation:

  • Loss of friends, avoiding social situations, seeing peers less frequently 
  • Expressing feelings of loneliness or rejection

Emotional Signs:

  • Increased anxiety or signs of depression
  • Expressing feelings of helplessness (“I can’t do anything”) or worthlessness (“I am not a good person”). Not wanting to try new things. 

Changes in Technology Use:

  • Unwillingness to use electronic devices or social media. Seems upset during or after being online, or unexpectedly deleting social media accounts


What to do 

  • Communication
    • Talk openly and calmly. Assure them that you just want to support them. 
    • Encourage them to share their feelings and experiences. Ask open-ended questions. Summarise what they tell you so they know you understand
  • Active Listening
    • Listen to their story without distractions, interrupting, advice, and judgement.
    • Manage your emotional reaction (anger, anxiety, sadness) so they feel safe to speak. Allow them to express themselves at their own pace. 
    • Use non-verbal cues to show engagement (nod, face them, eye-contact)
    • Acknowledge your child’s feelings and let them know it’s okay to feel upset, angry, or scared. Validating their emotions will help build trust
  • Conflict Resolution 
    • Offer your support to problem-solve together. Let them know they are not alone. Collaboratively identify solutions your child feels comfortable with
  • Document the Incidents
    • Keep a record of specific incidents, including dates, times, locations, and people involved in case you need this later. Ask your child if they feel comfortable to do this and explain why
  • Contact the School
    • Talk to your child about reaching out to the school for support. Discuss the importance of school involvement. Listen to any concerns they might have about this and provide them with reassurance
    • Reach out to your child’s school to discuss the situation. Provide them with the documented incidents and ask for their intervention
  • Educate yourself and your child 
    • Teach your child about different forms of bullying, respectful behaviour, consequences of bullying and the importance of empathy 
    • Help them develop assertiveness skills to respond to bullying in a confident manner. Encourage them to speak up for themselves and set boundaries
  • Encourage Peer Support
    • Help your child identify supportive friends or peers who can provide companionship and assistance
  • Promote a Positive Environment at Home
    • Foster a supportive and open atmosphere at home where your child feels comfortable sharing their experiences
    • Notice when your child is stepping outside of their comfort zone, asserting themselves and opening up to you and reinforce this to build their confidence
  • Monitor and Follow up 
    • Monitor your child’s well-being and follow up to see if there are new incidents or improvements. Choose the right time and place (a quiet, comfortable and private space with no interruptions)
  • Seek Professional Help
    • If your child is struggling emotionally, consider involving a mental health professional to provide support


Remember that every child is different, and your approach may need to be adjusted based on their personality and situation. The key is to create a safe and open environment where your child feels comfortable sharing their experiences and seeking help when needed.

Stephanie Di Giovanni