The first step is to regulate your own affect; gain control of yourself.
If your child is being bullied, especially by an adult, it makes sense that your feelings could fall anywhere between indignant and murderous. However, a parent’s explosive emotional display is likely to overwhelm a child and may cause her to shut down even more. Work on regulating your emotions before starting the conversation.
Use the Dialectical Behavior Therapy skill of “observe and describe.”
Once you’ve regulated your own emotions, gently address your concern with your child. Use the skill of observe and describe. Stick to what you have specifically observed and describe it to your child. For example:
“I notice that for the past four mornings you haven’t been wanting to go to school, and you’ve told me you had a stomach ache every day. What’s going on?” “Every Sunday night, I’ve noticed that you become tearful. Why do you think that happens? I wonder if it has to do with going to school.”
Create a culture of open communication.
Creating a culture of open communication at home is easier than it sounds, and it will allow your child to feel confident in expressing her feelings. Where I work, clients share a high and low (or best and worst part of their day); this typically provides me with important information.
Try sharing a high and low of your day, and ask your child to do the same. When parents openly share tough parts of their day and how they problem-solved, they are modeling resilience for their children.
There are other modes of communication you can encourage that may allow your child to further open up. For instance, you can engage her in an activity in which she writes or draws pictures of messages she receives in various environments, including the classroom.