A bully can turn a fun activity like playing at recess or walking home after a long day into a dreadful activity for children. Bullying has become an epidemic throughout the nation. More than 19 percent of the children in elementary school are being bullied in the U.S. Each day that number tends to rise with more than 160,000 kids staying from home to avoid the fear of being bullied.
Most people don’t realize, but bullying can leave deep emotional scars for a child. Bullying can result in poor performance at school, low self-worth and in extreme cases, even suicide. Even though you won’t be able to fight all of your children’s battles for them, if you feel like your little one is being bullied at school, the first thing you want to do is try to help stop it by telling a teacher or the bully’s parents.
Telling an adult may help stop the bullying, in addition, there are plenty of ways you can help your little one cope with the emotional stress caused by bullying. Even if your child is not being bullied in school, it’s always important to talk about it to help prepare and lessen the emotional impact if it does ever happen.
How Can You Tell If Your Child Is Being Bullied?
Most often than not, your child won’t walk up to you and say, “I’m being bullied.” Instead, your child might ask to stay home from school or act in a different manner. The following instances below are a few signs that might signal that your child is being bullied.
Watch for these signs that your child might be dealing with a bully:
- Refusing to go to school
- Frequent stomachaches, headaches and other physical complaints
- Agitation and moodiness
- Nightmares and trouble falling asleep
- Loss of appetite
- Blaming themselves
- Appearing sad, lonely, anxious and/or depressed for no reason
- Avoiding talking to friends after school and on weekends
- Talking about being alone at school
- Feeling helpless or worthless
- Afraid of riding the bus
- A sudden decline in school performance
- Any communication threats of suicide (e.g., “No one would care if I wasn’t alive.”)
These are just a few signs that something might be going on with your child while they’re at school. If your child generally enjoys going to school and suddenly doesn’t want to go back, it might be time to speak to your child to figure out what’s going wrong.
What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied
Whether your child shares with you that they are being bullied at school or not, if you suspect something is wrong, try speaking to your child and help them find a solution to their problem. Keep these simple tips in mind when speaking to your child about bullying.
Refrain from making assumptions: This is a vulnerable time for your child and the most important thing you can do for them is to listen. Refrain from asking questions like, “What did you do?” or “Did you say something to make the other kid upset?” What this does is make the assumption that your child caused the problem. Instead, listen to your child with an open mind and offer them unconditional love and support.
Watch for nonverbal clues and mention any changes in behavior: If your child hasn’t shared with you that they are being bullied, but you notice a change in their behavior, share what you’ve noticed with your child and watch for clues. The best time to talk to your child is during their downtime when they had some time to wind down after a long school day.
You can ask questions like “I noticed you’re not hanging out with Billy and his friends, are you still playing together?” will help your child speak up without feeling interrogated.
Try not to schedule a meeting with your kid and their bully: Although this may seem like a viable solution to have your child and the bully’s parents all meet face to face to solve this problem, it actually ends up being an awkward situation for both children and doesn’t solve the problem. In some cases, it can actually make matters worse.
Ask a teacher for help: A teacher is one of the first to notice any changes in your child’s emotional state or behavior. If they aren’t aware of your child being bullied, speak to them and let them know, so they can help provide a safe and comfortable environment for your child.
Solve this problem together with your child: Since there are multiple instances of bullying, there is no magical solution that can be used to help all kids who are being bullied. Instead, talk about different options with your child to help them come up with a solution. Brainstorming solutions with your child will help encourage your child to take control of the situation.
Bullying can bring about emotional trauma for a child. Regardless if it’s verbal, emotional or physical it doesn’t make a difference because they can all hurt a child the same. It’s important to offer your child unconditional love and support during a time when they can feel alone.
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Hurley, K. (2016, October 03). What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/10/child-bullied/
Lyness, D. (Ed.). (2013, July). Helping Kids Deal With Bullies. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/bullies.html
What to do if your Child is Bullied – Help Kids Deal With Bullies. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-being-bullied-what-should-i-do/
Colino, S. (n.d.). Bully-Proof Your Child: How to Deal with Bullies. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/kids/problems/bullying/bully-proof-your-child-how-to-deal-with-bullies/