Bullying is when someone is being hurt either by repeated words or actions and feels bad because of it. It can take many forms and result in low self-esteem and confidence, lower school grades, withdrawal, anxiety, rage and anger for a child who is a victim. As a caring parent it is hard to see your child in pain or distress and this may in turn cause anger and anxiety for you.
The first step is to address the source of the bullying. Your child has a right to be and feel safe, a human need so fundamental it is the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human needs.
Your child needs to know that they are believed and that they will be listened to, and that action will be taken against the perpetrator. Natural justice and fairness is important to children. We recommend you work in partnership with your school to find a buddy or peer mentor that your child can talk to during the day if they are feeling vulnerable. I asked one 10-year old client what advice he would give to a child who has been bullied and he wisely said they needed to find an adult they trusted and a place at school where they could feel safe and quiet to do an activity that makes them feel good such as drawing or reading.
Once the bullying has been addressed the recovery and rebuilding begins. In my practice I often start with a “magic magnet” exercise that draws out the bad thoughts, feelings and energy and enables the child or young person to let them go. Its an intense experience, both physical and cognitive but more importantly it is quick and easy to do.
Talking therapy and associated exercises come next and these might include “Circle of Friends” and the use of metaphor to create a bright new future. The beauty of NLP is that it is focussed on positive change and it works quickly. It took just four hours of NLP based therapy for one of my young clients to feel, think and behave confidently and calmly at school.
We also work on beliefs about self – because a bullied child can suffer feelings of lack of worthiness or self-esteem “I’m not good enough”, “Nobody likes me”, “I have got no friends”, and they will have strong beliefs about the bullies: “They are mean all the time”, “They tell lies”. We have so many ways to change the perspectives of our young clients including our famous “chairs” exercise and a popular letter-writing exercise where we create a character to whom we write a rude letter telling them we don’t need them anymore!
We also have anchoring, a technique for inducing a certain frame of mind or emotion such as confidence that can be recalled when needed by children. We can further cement all these new changes a child has learnt using hypnosis.
Above all improving confidence after bullying comes down to kids knowing that as parents we have their back when they need us and that don’t keep obsessing about it when it has been resolved. Most kids just want to fit in and they are actually great of letting go of things and moving on; sometimes much better than their parents!