How I’m Helping My Child Deal With Bullying

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Two years ago I withdrew my child from mainstream education after a regime of bullying (from children and an adult learning assistant) shot his self confidence to pieces.

He was 5 at the time and made to feel worthless. The psychological affects of this were vast, including an inability to speak fluently anymore and other distressing physical behaviors.

Since then, he’s progressed by being home educated, having plenty of play therapy to rid his memories and in some cases, reenacting the bullying with dolls to help him process and transition.

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Today, after a few months of nothing unusual, he awoke and began to cry. He said he can remember how the other children would sit at the table not talking to him, that he could feel what they felt, and it was horrible. That they wanted to leave, and so did he, that it feels like there’s a traffic jam in his stomach and memories in his legs.

I got him some paper, and he drew these bad memories, putting them securely into an envelope. We then dressed warmly and took the envelope out in the rain and went for a walk. We found a quiet wooded area and I pulled out the spoon I’d brought. We dug a hole, and he buried his worries.

As we walked away, he jumped in puddles saying his memories had left his legs. I presume they’d made him feel heavy and sluggish, like when you walk and you’re feeling sadness.

My darling came home and had a warm bubble bath full of ducks and empty bottles for pouring.

If your child is having trouble processing unpleasant memories, I suggest writing or drawing them on paper, tying them to a helium balloon and letting them go in the garden or burying them (not in your garden, as they are still there). Somewhere a bit further away. Toys are brilliant for reenactment; please try not to show distress at what’s enacted but do show reaction (i.e. “That’s not nice of them. They shouldn’t do that to dolly.”).  Never break role. Over time, your child may talk about it, but if they don’t, this is an excellent way of finding out what has transpired. A mood diary is also good; they can write their feelings and recollections down.

Our children replay situations in their heads, reliving each experience and memory as vividly as when it happened; they need help to process it sometimes, or it can lead to frustration and in severe cases, like my son’s, regression.

Originally published on The Mighty

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