Ask the Experts: Lighthouse Arabia on Bullying

Parenting is life at its most rewarding and yet most difficult... and at some point every parent needs advice on how best to handle a difficult situation. That is why we have created 'Ask the Experts' with the team at Lighthouse Arabia. This is your chance to connect directly with experts in the field of child mental health and wellbeing. Anonymity is guaranteed. No names or identifying details will be ever be published.
Ask the Experts: Lighthouse Arabia on Bullying
By Jenny Mollon
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Do you have a parenting worry that you can’t resolve alone? Do you need support from an expert to help your child? We’ve teamed up with Dubai’s leading mental health and wellbeing centre, Lighthouse Arabia, to bring our readers regular, anonymous and free access to some of the UAE’s very best child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists.

As most UAE schools focus on World Anti-Bullying week, we have selected a letter highlighting the impact of bullying - both at home and at school.

Dear Ask the Experts,

We have finally decided to move my 9 year old son's school due to bullying that has been on and off since long before Covid. The trouble is he now hates school and is resistant to trying the new one. He starts fresh in January. How can we help rebuild his confidence for school between now and then? We really want him to make a good start and enjoy his new school, it's heart breaking to see him so beaten down right now. - Concerned Parents, Dubai

Dear Concerned Parents,

I am so sorry to hear about your son being bullied in school. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for you both as parents to have seen him go through this.

Children, just like adults, experience feelings as they anticipate transitions and usually show these emotions through their behaviour. These responses are usually a reflection of their developmental stage but also who they are as individuals.

Every child's temperament varies and transitions will affect each person differently. Learning how to manage change requires certain skills, one of them is having information about the new chapter he is going to begin in this new school. Information is power. Practical things like taking him to the new school, having a chance to know his teacher before the school semester begins, showing him the different subjects he will see will help.

As parents it is important to keep in mind that all the different feelings he is expressing are normal and expected during a transition period. However, here are some small steps you can both take as parents to help your child develop a sense of safety:

1. Acknowledge the situation (validate these feelings he is expressing/showing) Show empathy towards your child. Allow them to ask questions and reassure them how you will be by their side if needed

2. Recognize your child's needs (safety) Allow constant check in about how they are feeling and what they are thinking

3. Include opportunities for quick success to help your child feel empowered during his transition period

4. Model the attitude and behaviour you want your child to develop

I hope these tips help! I am wishing you family all the best in this new academic semester.

Dr. Daniela Salazar, Phd, Clinical Psychologist, Lighthouse Arabia

Dr Daniela Salazar

Do you have a question for the team at Lighthouse Arabia? Share it with us HERE. All questions will be treated in strict confidence. Not all questions can be answered, only those chosen by the will appear on the site.

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