Helping your child through bullying
Jill Gill for Clover House
Bullying is a massive issue at the moment from habitual instances in schools to new problems around cyber-bullying. Worryingly, research from Warwick University and King’s College London found children who were bullied were more likely to develop a mental health problem leading parents to wonder what they can do about it all.
In 2008, Warwick university undertook a study that tracked nearly 6,500 children from birth to 13 years old. The children and their parents were interviewed yearly with the children also carrying out questionnaires and tests. It noted that those who had experienced physical or emotional bullying were twice as likely to develop symptoms of mental health problems and those who suffered sustained bullying were up to four times as likely to develop a mental illness. Warwick University’s Dr. Dieter Wolke remarked that these kinds of ‘adverse social relationships with peers may increase the risk of developing psychosis in adulthood’.
Another study, also carried out in 2008 by King’s College London, looked at the difference between over 1,000 twin pairs when one was bullied and the other was not. Reports from parents and educational professionals found that the bullied twin was far more likely to internalise their problems, leading to symptoms such as stomach pains, crying and a fear of being alone.
At Clover House, we’ve provided treatment since 1996 and have witnessed how these kinds of problems manifest in children. In a sample size of 16 bullied children between the ages of 9-15, we witnessed emotional instability, stomach pains, anxiety, clinginess, school phobia, rages, bed-wetting and even shouting out during sleep and head-banging.
Bullying is a complex subject and one that, collectively, we haven’t managed to eradicate just yet. If your child is being bullied, there are things you can do behind the scenes to support your child emotionally to persevere through this difficult time. At Clover House, we use a three – part system to help children with a variety of physical, mental and emotional problems; aromatherapy massage, nutritional advice and Neuro-Linguistic Programming talking therapy.
Massage work for bonding and emotional support
In many childrens’ cases, regular bed-time massage really helped. During the first few sessions, we work with the children to feel sufficiently relaxed to accept massage techniques and then with their parents to learn how to give massages.
Taking the time to work with your child in this way increases your relationship by emotionally bonding you together. Skin-to-skin contact is massively important for releasing bonding, happy hormones and it also creates an opportunity for you and your child to talk about your day and share your fears and worries.
Start off with committing to just 5 minutes of a simple bit of back-rubbing each evening with a simple moisturising lotion. Pair it with asking how their day went and - if you’ve time - 5 minutes of reading to them and you’ll see the results.
Imagery work for positivity
As part of our services, children and parents spend time with our NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) therapist who works with upsetting memories and swinging confidence levels. Securing some talking therapy time for your child should really help; our therapist has seen great results in helping children to take control over their memories and fears in several ways. An important stage is to remove the feeling of victimisation to encourage positivity about their future chances and retain control in situations. For instance, therapists have used lioness and hero imageries that the child can visualise to cope better in difficult environments. Both of these also strive to reward confident behaviour and prioritise better self-esteem.
This kind of work is one for the professionals, however. Finding your child someone to talk to in this manner requires someone with experience. As a parent, you can, of course, continue to be a positive influence too; just make sure you aren’t projecting any of your stresses onto them, be ready and willing to hear them when they need you and stay in good contact with the relevant education, support and health professionals so you can work together to help your child.
Nutrition revamp for stability:
Getting less processed food and more healthy, fruit-and-veg based meals into your child is a priority for most parents. We find that children always benefit from improvements in diet but one tip we would certainly share is eradicating fizzy drinks and replacing them with water as it really benefitted the children.
Encouraging your child to drink more water will help with their blood sugar levels. This is important because when your blood sugar levels go up and down, your mood is altered too. Eating and drinking foods that cause less peaks will give your child a bit more emotional stability which should make their difficult experiences more tolerable. Try giving your child fruit or nuts rather than chocolate which causes peaks in blood sugar levels. They may not like it (or you!) at first but, as we always repeat at Clover House, children often need to try new foods 10 – 15 times before they acquire a taste for it.
Where to get help
Tackling bullying is a very important part of making sure your child is safe and your child’s school should have an appropriate and proactive policy in place to assist you in confronting this issue. You can also talk to specialised charities for help – especially if you feel the school isn’t doing enough. YoungMinds recommends the Anti- Bullying Alliance, BeatBullying and Bullying UK. Alternatively, if you are a parent and just want to ask a few questions and get some reassurance, you can contact the Young Minds Parent’s Helpline or talk to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to have a chat about this article.
Clover House is privileged and proud to report a sustained treatment success rate of 86% over the years; no matter your problem, we’ve probably helped with it before!
Moving on and moving up!
Remember, if you are truly worried about your child, always visit your GP or talk to your health visitor.
But why not pledge now to try one of these today with your child? We’d love to hear about how it goes. Try something out and report back in the comments – especially if you’ve any tips of your own!