We all know the effects and dangers of cyberbullying. However, when it comes to our children, siblings, cousins or friends, our intentions of helping them to cope with these difficult events can sometimes cause more harm than good.
Here are some tips that could help you with supporting cyberbullying victims, especially if it is your loved ones that are hurting.
4 things to do
1. Save the evidence:
Take a picture or a screenshot before you delete any inappropriate posts on your child’s social. If this is an issues that you choose to take to teachers, kids clubs, or even the police, it can be helpful to have the support of these screenshots.
2. Remind them they’re wonderful:
I doesn’t matter what age we are, bullying can really shake our confidence. Since your child might be feeling particularly down after admitting that they are being bullied, it can really help to talk to them about their best sides and re-emphasise the positive aspects of their life. Parents have used a lot of different ways to support their children. Some of these could work for you.
Organise a family trip where the kids can practise their favourite skills (a drawing class, dancing) or enjoy their favourite activities (going to the zoo, the cinema, or playground.)
3. Ask them for ideas:
It’s super easy to jump into damage control when someone you love is hurting. We might find ourselves calling the school or teachers, jumping to action, without necessarily listening fully to our child’s concerns. This is so easily done, but by not listening to their fears we might add to their stress.
If we can give breathing space and allow our children to come up with ideas about what to do next, this can often help build their resilience and equip them to work through these issues. I find these a really useful jumping off point when I’m likely to move too fast to action (or retaliation): “What do you think would happen if you did that? How would that make you feel?”
4. Stay calm:
I know, it’s hard. For lots of us, this doesn’t come easy. But this is super important. It allows our kids to discuss their experience of being bullied. It’s sad, but true, that children often hide being bullied because they fear their parents’ reactions. Sharing experiences of being bullied online is never easy, but responding with calm rather than our gut anger, can encourage our children to trust us and communicate what they are experiencing more openly.
4 things to avoid
1. Don’t take away internet privileges:
But my kid’s being bullied online!! I know this may be your gut reaction – but the best advice is not to jump the gun. Eliminating access could create more problems, it could damage their trust in you, and may lead to them feeling more isolated.
2. Don’t deal with it alone:
It can be tempting to just sort it. But often, this leads to a lot of unresolved issues. You don’t have to go through this alone. It’s a sign of strength to reach out for professional help when you recognise you may need it.
3. Don’t directly call the parents of the bully:
For some people, this is the natural next step once you hear your kid’s side of the story. But think twice, as this can end up making the situation worse.
4. Don’t ignore the possibility that your child might be involved in cyberbullying behaviour as well:
It can be easy for someone who is being bullied to also participate in these behaviours, either as a defense mechanism or as a way of getting back at the bully. However, these sort of behaviours can be avoided by having open conversations about what bullying behaviour looks like.
Ultimately, we all hope that our kids grow up feeling loved and appreciated. Facing difficult issues such as cyberbullying could happen without warning and working together as a family to overcome them help us become stronger. Through conversation, compassion and understanding (and a little bit of 💖) we will be able to support those who are struggling with cyberbullying.