We all know the pain of being bullied. As parents, we all remember being at school, being teased, called names. Remembering that feeling of being alone in the school playground. Arriving at the school gates in the morning, afraid of what you would face. Not being accepted, not being one of the popular kids. So that's why as a parent, it is so difficult to see our own dyslexic children being bullied. As a parent, once the school gate shuts you are not there to protect your child against the bullies.
Growing up as a child in the 1980's, bullying was something that you were told to live with. If you told a teacher you were being bullied, they would often just tell you to go away, or call you a tell tale. Parents would say to children, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me". As we all know of that is completely not true. That bullying can lead to lifelong emotional, confidence issues and effect self esteem.
When I was at school, I was subjected to bullying because I am dyslexic. Children, part of the popular gang, would leave me out of games, spread rumours about me. Call me names, stupid scruffy, smelly because I was messy, disorganised. I was excluded from their group and other children would not want to be friends with me. I struggled in class because of my dyslexia, this made other children not want to be around me. In the end, I learned just to be a bit of a loner, to be an outsider and that's something that's followed me through life. Even now when I meet new groups of people, I don't expect them to like me.
The important things to remember is the bullies. Like your child, are just children are no matter what they say. No matter how nasty they act, they are just children and they don't always understand what they are saying.
Well, bullying comes in all different types of forms. Simply, it is when a child is behaving towards your child in a way, that is making them up-happy.
Young children can feel embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated by being bullied. They don't understand why they're being bullied. Thinking they are the problem and that they need to change. Being better at sport, less ugly, not having dyslexia would stop it happening. As adults we know that is not true, a bully will always find a reason to bully.
The worst thing a parent can do is to get really, really angry. Avoid turning up at the school shouting or try and tackle it yourself. Such as stopping the bully at the school gates, questioning "why did you bully my child?".
All this does is it escalates the problem. It can embarrass your own child, but it also puts the power back on the bully. Suddenly they are the ones that now being protected. They will get the sympathy from the school. The ones whose parents will probably end up complaining about you. So Stay calm and take the following advice.
As a trained teacher I know that primary schools do a lot of prevent bullying . Celebrating children's differences, by recognising days such as, Down Syndrome Day, Gay Pride. Diwali festival and St. Patrick's Day. Schools do try to create an environment of acceptance, that it is ok to be different. Ask your child's school to do positive presentations on dyslexia. See National Anti-bullying Week for more details.
You may try to sit down and get your child to speak about the bullying. They might not be open to doing this, you need to ask the right questions.
A great story to start a conversation about bullying between parent and child
Here is a list of the best anti-bullying, confidence building books. That I have selected, to help your child overcome this challenge.
As parents we all worry about our children's future happiness. Real-life will always bring its challenges. Whilst we are unable to change what happens, we can help them cope with what life throws at them. I find the best way to prepare them, is by talking to them, answering their questions on difficult subject. Books are a great conversation starter, children understand better through storytelling.
Here is some advice, about how books can help with bullying in children.
"Have you considered buying them personalised books with characters that looks like them? This helped my child a lot. Visionary women & men books are great too if they love reading." Jolka Mum
You are not alone in worrying about your child. Below are top worries mum's have about their child's future and bullying.
1. “At the moment, the state of the world in general. Pandemics, wars, so much.... hostility. Mine are young adults and I think this is the worst time recently to be trying to find yourself....” Sharon
2. “Transfer of trauma. Not talked about enough” Imogen
3. “Not knowing what person they will grow up to be, literally the fear of the unknown. Not knowing if he will respect me or love me the way I will raise him too” Imogen Victoria
4. “That their ADHD is misunderstood.” Faigy
5. “Apart of long term painful illness and other basic worries, I’m scared that they will be judged and discriminated, belittled and bullied (happened to both, but with first I had option to stop it and hold fascists accountable; with second I was powerless)” Jolka
6. “Not being able to protect them from things other people may say. Also, my children are half-Indian and I worry about racism. Find it hard to get my head around but my husband keeps reminding me that it will happen and that just breaks my heart. I was at a family party and one of the older kids was talking about some people being mean to her because she’s brown. I really didn’t want my children to hear or even realise that people might have an issue with their skin” Ami
7. "I think sometimes children can say things innocently. One day my daughters told another child in class that she won’t invite her to her party because she’s dyslexic & when the teacher told me I couldn’t believe it. There was no party. I had a long conversation with her and never had any issues since then. But I know if children aren’t guided then it becomes an issue. I have come along way & developed a coping mechanism of trying not to worry about what others may do to my children because it’s just way to much & was affecting my health. I have 2 older ones and a young one. We talk about things & how to respond to negative comments. The world has nice people & not so nice people so we pray to meet the nice one. I always say prayers when dropping my daughter to school so that she can hear & know that challenges are everywhere but we can control how to respond to them but can control others behaviour." Regina
8. “Not being accepted for being different, or that being challenged too much” Kirtsy
9. “Double standards in society. Lack of free speech. It does feel one rule for the powerful and another for us!” Reem
10. “Unknown to me transferring any childhood trauma that I have to them” Avner
11. “Growing up in todays society with how kids/teens are today. So fixated on iPads, makeup, Gucci. Miss when kids used to get bored and go play knock a door run or go to a corner shop with 50p and go on bike rides with their friends! Todays society and judgement sucks. Yes kids got so much of being outside playing. I used to love playing out on the street, to afraid to let my children do that now. The worlds gone mad it’s not a nice
Place anymore” Maddy
12. “Financial stability, health and wellbeing.” Paula
13. “Illness” Monica
14. “War or another pandemic…” Snezhana
15. “Bullying and violence in general” Helen
16. “Violence against women”. Elle
My advice for any parents worried they are not doing enough to help their children. To face these challenges. The fact you worry about it means you are doing a great job. When I worry about this too, I tell myself at least it means I am trying and that is sometimes all you can do. Just be there for them, to talk, a shoulder to cry on.
To help you child now at home use Dyslexic Mum, "Mooki Cards". Designed especially for parents, to help their children. Contains activities to help them learn. Advice on speaking to schools and help to manage emotions.
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