My Dyslexic Child is being Bullied at School what Should I do?

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.

My story of Being Bullied Dyslexia

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.

What Makes a Child Bully?

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.

  • Very often, a bully is a child that is unhappy themselves. They maybe having issues at home, struggling at school.
  • Likely they are getting bullied themselves. A child usually learns how to bully from being bullied. Try and show the bully compassion, sympathy if you can.

So What is Bullying?

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.

  • The bully is repeating this behaviour, even when they can see that your child is getting upset.
  • Bullies usually never work on their own, because bullying is cowardly behaviour. They will be part of a group and use this power to bully your child.

How Can I tell my Dyslexic Child is Being Bullied?

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.

  • How to tell a child is being bullied, you will see a change in their behaviour. So they might change from being a happy child, to being quite withdrawn.
  • You can see the difference between them when they come home from school. Then at the weekend when they are more relaxed.
  • They don't speak about school friends, don't invite children home to sleepovers. Birthday parties, school discos are not met with excitement.
  • They start to say negative things about how they act, look and be afraid to go to school in the morning.

What Can I do About School Bullies?

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.

Get the School to Help:

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.

  • So if your child is being bullied, speak to their school.  The school should really be supportive in this type of thing.  They should have lots of anti-bullying procedures and policies to help.
  • The school might do things like, take the bully to one sided.  Speak to them about how they are feeling, what is making them so angry that they want to pick on a child.
  • If the schools does not act as they should, know this is not acceptable. Keep pushing until they do something about it.

Speak to Your Child use Anti-bullying Books:

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.

  • As a mum, I find a great way to do this is to use anti-bullying books. Teaching them to have the confidence to challenge bullies, tell them how they treating them is not ok. Particularly stories, wrote from the points of view, of a child like them. Real stories about how they have overcome the bullying.
  • Books with strong dyslexic role models from different ethnic background. Achieving great things can help a dyslexic child believe in themselves.  
  • Making your child proud of who they are, makes them more resilient against the bullies words. Because the child has a real sense of who they actually, which is a great thing.

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.  

Parents Worried about Bullying

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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