Preventing your child being upset by others

Find out how your child is feeling

It is easier to do this if within the family there has always been openness about stammering and any other problems that your child may meet. Helping him to learn strategies to help will build his confidence.

It is essential that you know that your child is being teased or bullied as soon as possible so chat with him frequently; without making him feel pressurised. Talk gently to discover how he is enjoying school. Make sure you understand his daily activities and relationships. Keep up with the names of the adults that he meets and the children that he works and plays with so that you can follow up his comments with replies of your own. Keep an eye on how he seems to be coping, look out for any signs of anxiety or worry.

A younger child may not be able to even understand exactly why he feels worried about what he is experiencing at school. He may need gentle coaxing at home when he is feeling relaxed to talk about his feelings. Older children, particularly boys, may feel they are being weak if they say anything to their parents about their problems.

Changes in your child's behaviour

Sometimes this talking may not happen and you find that worries are shown through changes in his fluency and/or behaviour at any age. He may struggle more with his speech and be obviously losing confidence. He may be irritable and bad tempered, destructive with his toys or games. In the younger child toileting habits may change or he may go off his food, or simply be difficult generally. All this can be caused by the anxiety he is feeling and you must spend time to find out what is its cause. Even though it may appear trivial to you it may be frightening for your child.

Talk to your child's teacher

As soon as you are concerned talk to your child's teacher, do not decide to wait and see whether your child settles down again. Try to be specific about other children and/or staff involved and use the log of incidents that you have prepared.

Remember to stress that in giving names you are only alleging that these individuals were involved, as you must appreciate that you are probably relying on information from your child and he may be mistaken. Other parents will be annoyed if their child is wrongly accused, and staff will not be pleased if they are brought into disrepute without cause. If it is the teacher herself who seems to have upset your child, it is still important to talk with her in a calm manner and hopefully the matter will be put right at this early stage.

This helpful chat may quickly resolve the situation especially if he feels bullied by other children as they can respond very quickly to advice from the teacher Worrying situations can be nipped in the bud. You can then be reassured that staff are looking out for any more difficulties and know to contact you immediately if they arise.

Bullying policy

The Government has laid down very clear guidelines for the management of teasing and bullying in schools, and every school should have a bullying policy that is based on those guidelines. This policy is available to you on request, and in many schools you may find it displayed for everyone to see and understand. If you discover that a school has not devised a policy, this is very out of line with government expectations, and is a bad sign. Ideally, the policy should mention that everyone in the school should 'tell' on the bullies and that bullying includes every type of verbal and physical harassment.

It is when you feel that your child is still being teased or bullied even though you have spoken with staff that your approach should be based on this policy. Do not feel that you are being awkward as all schools are expected to respond effectively to these concerns. Hopefully you will still be able to resolve the issue by talking with the teacher.

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