Many parents are unaware of the signs of bullying and the first indication they receive may be a phone call from the school requesting a meeting. While a natural first reaction may be one of shock, disbelief, disappointment or anger, it is very important to remain calm and control your feelings. Remember that your child also may be feeling fearful and defensive.
One possible way of approaching an accusation is to initiate a conversation with your child along the lines of: “I had a phone call from your teacher Mr. Smith. Something to do with you and Peter. Do you want to tell me about it before I go to meet him?”
• Emphasise the importance of being truthful as it will make the problem easier to solve.
• If bullying has occurred, encourage your child to accept responsibility for the behaviour and make them aware of the consequences. Explain that the school must apply sanctions because it has a responsibility to keep students safe.
• Explain how bullying has serious implications for their progress in school and in life. An honest commitment to change will help restore their standing with others.
• Show that you care and that it is the behaviour you condemn and not them.
• Explain that the safety of others should never be at risk because of their behaviour.
• Discuss ways of making amends, e.g. stopping the bullying, an apology, returning goods, etc.
• Let them know that you expect change and that you will support their efforts to this end.
• Monitor your child’s future behaviour closely.
• Praise your child for honesty and for any efforts to improve.