Victims of Bullying and Play Therapy

If your child is being bullied, or cyberbullied, it can be extremely distressing for children and very worrying for adults. A lot of parents and carers really aren’t sure how to help their child and there often isn’t a simple solution. Play therapy can help children process their painful feelings, and then play out different ways of being -such as being assertive, confident, and empowered.


There are certain changes you may notice in your child if they are being bullied at school or online:

  • Cuts, bruises and/or marks on their skin
  • Ripped or stained school clothes
  • Reducing time online or being jumpy when getting texts or emails
  • ‘Losing’ things at school
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Avoiding school or social situations
  • Losing self-esteem and confidence
  • Friendship breakups
  • Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping, headaches and/or stomach aches


How you can help

  • Talk regularly with your child about school, their friendships both at school and online, and anything that might be upsetting them.
  • Ask them directly if they are being bullied, at school or online, and let them know you want to help them.
  • Try to listen to how they feel and what they think in detail rather than jumping to problem solving.
  • Discuss your own experiences of being bullied (if relevant) and how you got through it.


How Play Therapy can help

Play therapy lets children put scary feelings, like shame and humiliation, onto the toys -so the toys experience these emotions rather than themselves. This is important, as often these feelings are too powerful and overwhelming for the child to directly feel them themselves. When they ‘toys feel them’, the child can start to process and release the complex feelings.

Children can safely release feelings of anger, and even revenge, in a safe environment where no-one will get hurt.

Children can start to ‘play out’ different ways of being in social relationships, like being powerful, confident, and assertive. When they have the chance to practice new ways of feeling and acting, they can then start to experiment acting this way in the real world.

Christine Harkin
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