Bullying can be just as distressing for a parent as it is for their child. Parenting educator Kay Buckley has these tips for talking to children about bullying.

Naturally, we want to defend and protect our children from hurt. However, the harsh reality is that we can’t – and won’t – always be with our children to do that.

But we can equip children with life skills to manage bullying. Doing some “What would you do if….” conversations can give you an insight into how well equipped your child may be to manage bad behaviour.

Ask them what they know about bullying, and what happens at their school if someone is bullied.

The story is often more complex than “I’ve just been bullied” and the conflict history between children is often very muddy.

A key message to get across to them is that if they are being bullied, to tell an adult or someone who can intervene.

If your child discloses to you they are being picked on, then it’s important that you take them seriously.

Make an appointment to speak to their teacher and discuss a plan of action. If you do not get a satisfactory response from their teacher, take it further with another staff member but try to avoid going directly to the parent of the bully.

If children feel safe and confident enough to stand up to the bullying, encourage them to use “I” messages such as “I don’t like it when you say that, please stop”.

Research shows the `bystander effect’ is a deterrent to bullying behaviour, so conversations with your child around what to do if they see someone being bullied are also important.

Talk with them about standing up for someone or, if they are too afraid to do this for fear of recrimination, to at least show the person being bullied some support by smiling, sharing, or sitting next to them.