In the third part of our series, How to have the conversation to end bullying, psychologist and Dolly’s Dream advisory board member, Dr Charlotte Keating offers advice on when is the best time to speak with your children.
Creating the space to have the conversation to end bullying in a calm, safe way models that, regardless of what has happened, it will be safe to talk about it. These conversations will also help to build resilience in young people to potentially cope with bullying, and to break the cycle.
It’s going to take a little bit of intuition on when the time is right for this type of conversation with your young person. You will know your young person best, and when it might be timely.
When do your children feel more comfortable opening up? You might consider the last time they felt comfortable to open up and engage on an important topic – was it on a long drive, or the way home from school or during a bike ride or leisure activity, for example.
Perhaps the topic will come up organically when you are doing an activity together, or picking a time that you know they are likely to be relaxed but also open to being engaged in conversation.
Of course, keep trying at different times if at first you don’t get much traction.
How to have the conversation, and when to have the conversation can be different for different children. If you have more than one child, do carefully consider whether it is the type of conversation your young person is likely to open-up on in front of other siblings, or whether it might be best had one-on-one. These conversations can be sensitive. For some people, there is comfort in company and a group conversation feels less exposing or safer. For others, a group conversation around a topic that is very sensitive, can make them feel uncomfortable.
If you are concerned that your child may be involved in mistreating someone else, then it will be important to create the time to sit down and have a calm conversation about what has happened as soon as is practicable. You’ll find further resources at Dolly’s Dream Parent Hub.