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“One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make when their child confides in them is promising a quick-fix.

Assuring the child that they are going to solve the problem immediately is misleading because it will take time.

Psychotherapist Stella O’Malley author of the ground-breaking new book, Bully-Proof Kids: Practical Tools to Help Your Child to Grow Up Confident, Assertive and Strong, explains how parents can help their children break the cycle.

“The child who has been bullied often feels deep down that they have been viewed, judged and then branded as not good enough and their trust in other people’s goodness is destroyed,” explains the public speaker and mum-of-two.

“Each little kid who has been bullied thinks that this is their individual failure and they usually blame themselves.

“They may feel relieved and even vindicated 20 years later when they discover that it wasn’t their fault, nor were they alone in their experience, but the anguish of being abandoned and humiliated by their peers at a crucial stage of development often leaves many long-term scars.” The celebrated author explains that the long-term impacts of bullying are varied and many.

It is extremely damaging and can lead to addiction and depression.” But why are certain children targeted in the first place?

“People who are targeted by bullies are often different, they are often gentle and stoical and some of them have no particular desire to be in the limelight.

“Ask your child important questions: when did it first happen; why did it first happen; why did the bullying/teasing/hostility/behaviour continue after the first incident; who are the bystanders; are there any teacher who might be more helpful than others?I didn’t really see it as bullying at the time, because by the time I got to secondary school, my self-esteem had plummeted so low that I believed I deserved it. Throughout my 20s, the little self-worth I did have diminished more and more.Eventually, around Christmas 2015, I started to have suicidal thoughts, believing that the people I loved would be better off without me, including my five-year-old daughter.“There will always be one or two kids who will stand up for a child who is being bullied.

Ask the teachers in the school who these children are.It sounds innocent enough, but 11-year-old me was mortified. There was one girl who would actually ‘moo’ every time I passed her in the corridors,” says the Dundalk native.“Most of the time, I’d respond by staying quiet and getting away from whichever bully it was, trying my best to escape before the tears started falling.Added to this, they are often insecure about themselves.” On the other end of the spectrum, Stella explains, “Bullies are often arrogant, hyper-competitive, quick to anger, incompetent at handling conflict and power-crazy.