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SPOT LIGHT Tell your child what to do in case he or she experiences or witnesses bullying. Establish and periodically review with your child the basics of what to do if they encounter hurtful behaviour directed toward them or someone else. Tell your child to alert a teacher right away if they see bullying behaviour (explain that this is not tattling, which is reporting something to the teacher just to get someone in trouble, but is an important way to stop someone from getting hurt). Teach a child the importance of empathy. Research has shown that emotional intelligence and empathy skills may be even more important for success in life than intellectual intelligence. A child who is able to understand what it may feel like to be bullied and can understand and regulate his own emotions is less likely to engage in that behaviour. Set a good example. Do you ever make fun of other people or gossip about others in front of your child? Have you ever spoken rudely to a waiter at a restaurant or to a sales person in a shop. Even if you think your children are not listening or observing your behaviour, the fact is that children learn a lot about how to conduct themselves from watching their parents.This is called “Modelling.” Look for warning signs that your child may be the victim of bullying. Does your child express reluctance to go to school? Are you seeing sudden behavioural changes such as aggression or emotional problems such as anxiety or depression? Children may be reluctant to discuss a school bullying problem with parents, but there are common signs parents can look for if they suspect that their child may be the victim of school bullying.
Talk to your school about what teachers can do and about effective programmes that are being used by schools to deter bullying. If you suspect that your child may be the victim of school bullying, you can tell your child’s teacher about your concerns and ask her to keep an eye out on the interactions between your child and his classmates. Ask the teacher to watch out for problems and notify the school principal and counsellor about your concerns.
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