Dear Louanne: ‘How can I convince my son to be open about being bullied?’

I think my child is being bullied at school. He is withdrawn and doesn’t want to talk to me or my husband about how things are going at school. He is normally a very open little guy, always wanting to talk about things and involve us in his life. I think it happens, but I’m not sure. I don’t know how to talk to him about it and encourage him to open up. He’s eight.

m

Hi FM,

First of all, may I say what a loving and caring parent you are for noticing changes in your child’s behavior. You sound like you really know your little boy and that you pay attention to him.

Talking to your child about what they think is nice or unkind behavior at school and in their community will help you understand what is happening in their lives. Open communication from you reassures him that he can talk to you, as he has so enthusiastically done in the past.

It is never too early to start talking, thinking and learning about relationships, how to treat others and how a child can expect to be treated by others.

Bullying is a horrible and harmful experience. In addition to the physical consequences of bullying, emotional and mental health problems can arise.

Your child has the right to a safe and nurturing school environment.

It’s helpful to support your child in having a conversation when he seems reluctant (remember he may have been threatened if he reveals it to you).

Stories are a very important part of a child’s world.

You can use a book or a movie to talk about what’s happening in the story, how the characters are feeling, and what they might do.

For example, ‘Wonder’ by RJ Palacio is both a fantastic book and film about bullying, empathy, compassion and acceptance. It is suitable for children aged 8 – 12 years.

When you play alongside their favorite characters, you can help them practice standing up for themselves by saying, “No! Stop that” and “No! I don’t like that’ in a clear voice.

Ask how the friendship groups at school feel about being a part of. Encourage your child to spend time with people who make him feel good about himself. Talk about what characteristics make a good friend. Remind them that real friends don’t make you sad or do things you don’t want to.

Schools have a legal responsibility to prevent bullying and protect children. Bullies don’t usually bully in front of teachers, so pick up the phone and let your child’s teacher know that you’re concerned about what’s happening to your son. The teacher better keep an eye on it. Ask to be kept informed.

Being bullied can make a child really sad and lonely. Reassure your child that it is not their fault, that they are loved and wonderful. As a family, make sure you take the time to do things that your child enjoys and to make them feel good about themselves. Let your child know that he is not alone and together you will be able to work this out and make it stop.

‘My best friend doesn’t talk to me anymore’

I told my best friend that I liked her boyfriend – just that I liked him, nothing else – and now she doesn’t talk to me anymore! I didn’t mean I liked him or wanted to go out with him; I thought it was a good thing to say because it’s important to like your friends’ partners. I thought it would make her happy, but in fact she is very unhappy with me. How can I talk to her?

SJ

Hi SJ,

I’m sorry to hear that your friend isn’t talking to you. It’s an upsetting experience when a friend stops talking to you. While you can’t get your friend to talk, you can let them know that you want to clear up the misunderstanding and restore the friendship.

You might consider apologizing for hurting your friends’ feelings and reassuring her that you’re glad she’s in a relationship that’s important to her, that you’ve never meant more than you think her boyfriend was a nice person. person.

Give your friend time to think about your apology. Give your friend time to heal. Hopefully your friend will accept your apology and your friendship will resume. You learned something about your girlfriend and her sense of vulnerability around her boyfriend.

After apologizing if your girlfriend still won’t talk to you, you can let her know that you’re happy to be friends when she’s ready, with no pressure, no judgment.

Have you considered the possibility that saying you like your friends boyfriend isn’t the reason she’s stopped talking to you? Sometimes people use silence as a way to end a relationship when they don’t have the communication skills to articulate their preferences or actions.

Your friends’ relationship with her boyfriend may have changed her priorities. It’s not an excuse for the silent treatment, but it may be part of the reason she doesn’t talk to you anymore.

Sometimes it is necessary to know when to let go. If you try to talk to your girlfriend and she keeps ignoring you, then there really is no friendship anymore. This will of course hurt, but for your own health and well-being it is important to take care of yourself by realizing that the friendship is probably over.

Take comfort in other friends and relatives you trust. They can reassure and support you through the grief that an important friendship is coming to an end.

If the friendship isn’t restored, you’ll have to put it down to experience. Sometimes people do things in life that are very difficult to understand and it could be because of their own internal problems and not about you at all.

In the end, it will be as much the loss of your friend as it will be yours.

For more information about Relate NI, see www.relateni.org

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