Be open to the possibility that your child might be being bullied. Some parents may not think of bullying as a possible reason for their child's distress.
One of the most important things you can do is to listen to your child if they say they are being bullied. It can be very difficult for them to talk to anyone about it.
Take your child seriously
Many children suffer in silence for a long time before they tell anyone. They may be ashamed, embarrassed, and may believe that they deserve it. Many children are frightened of telling because they fear the bullies will find out and hurt them even more. It can take great courage to tell an adult.
Do not blame the child
Being bullied is not their fault (although they may think it is). Reassure them that they were right to tell you.
Do not promise to keep the bullying a secret
Something must be done about it. Reassure your child that you, and the teachers, will make sure that things do not get worse because they have told you. Tell the school so they can stop it. Teachers don't always know that a child is being bullied. Find out if there is an anti-bullying programme in the school.
Talk with your child and work out ways of solving the problem
Include your child in decisions about how to tackle the problem. For example, work out some practical ways for them to stop the bullying. You might discuss what they should say back if they are called names, or where it's safe to go at playtime.
Bullying happens in every school, so it is important that each school has an effective anti-bullying programme. Good intentions are not enough.
Both pupils and staff need to act when they see a child being bullied. Every school can obtain an anti-bullying pack from the Department for Education and Skills.
There are a number of agencies that can offer advice and help in how to set up effective programmes (see above sources of further information).
Other professionals who can help
Children whose health has been affected may benefit from some specialist help from their general practitioner, school nurse, a social worker or an educational psychologist who will be able to offer help and advice.
Children with emotional problems quite often need these to be treated directly, even if the school has managed to stop the bullying. Your general practitioner can refer your child to a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).