Helping a child who struggles with bullying

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Helping a child who struggles with bullying.

Helping a Child who Struggles with Bullying

If you are a parent whose child struggles with bullying, it may be difficult to know who you can turn to for help. Fortunately, at a place like Children’s Support Solutions, there are a lot of different providers who can offer their expertise to help regarding many of the issues involved. Parents can feel comfortable knowing that we can identify these concerns and treat the whole child—all under one roof.

But how does it work? Let’s take the example of Matthew, a seven year-old boy who has been the target of bullying. Let’s look at how his concerns could be addressed by two different disciplines working together—psychology and occupational therapy.

First, let’s find out more about Matthew. He has some odd habits like chewing on clothing or pens during classes or transitions. When he is in class, he has difficulty paying attention and often wanders the classroom, disrupting peers and teachers alike. Matthew also finds it hard to deal with his emotions. During games he often ends up screaming and crying when he loses. Moreover, he appears anxious around others and often clings to his parents for support. He doesn’t know how to stand up for himself.

Where would we start? First, one of our psychologists would interview Matthew’s parents to find out what exactly is going on and whether there are any underlying issues involved (e.g., social anxiety, depression). Then, they would meet with Matthew and explore his thoughts and feelings in a gentle and supportive way. At Children’s Support Solutions, these meetings could occur face to face or via video counselling. As the child becomes more comfortable, the psychologist may use any number of therapeutic techniques to build Matthew’s skills for managing anxiety and interacting with his peers. He may for example, set up role-plays to teach the child positive thinking strategies and react to bullying in an effective way. Throughout this process, the psychologist remains heavily involved with the caregivers—providing homework exercises to try outside of sessions, getting feedback on how Matthew is progressing and addressing any new areas of concern.

As therapy progresses, Matthew may need other forms of support, especially considering potential sensory needs. That’s when a psychologist would refer to an occupational therapist.

An occupational therapist would first consult with the psychologist to discuss Matthew’s progress, what strategies that have been working and discuss any diagnosis that may have been provided. At Children’s Support Solutions, our clinical teams work within the interdisciplinary model to allow us to create a fluid, comprehensive therapy programs for each child.

The occupational therapist would complete an assessment, focusing on sensory integration, social skills and attention.  Occupational therapy sessions might focus on introducing sensory strategies to reduce Matthew’s chewing behavior or offer more age appropriate alternatives, such as gum or rubber pencil toppers. Therapy sessions would allow an opportunity to discuss regulation and social skills around interactive games and peers, both in 1:1 setting with the occupational therapist but also in one of our small “Let’s Socialize” groups where children can practice the social skills in a safe and therapeutic environment. Regulation strategies may include activities to help improve Matthew’s attention, release stress and help him learn to identify when he is beginning to feel anxious. His therapy program would include teaching and practicing some activities with Matthew that he can do that would help reduce his anxiety or stress, for example using deep breathing and counting to 20.

It’s difficult to see your child struggle, especially when trying to find how to help your child.  With Children’s Support Solutions, your child’s team can include many different providers who can offer their expertise to help. If you enjoyed this post and think it could help other families, our team would be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!

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