Is your child being bullied at school? Many children are on the receiving end of a bully, and it can be difficult helping your child through it. If your child is being bullied in school, these tips can help you help your child navigate their bully.
What is bullying?
Bullying can take on many forms these days, but it boils down to a repeated abuse of power that is intended to cause harm to another person. Bullying can include name-calling or verbal abuse. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is not nearly as true as we may think. Verbal abuse can be as harmful to a person as physical abuse. Bullying can also be physical abuse or even being intentionally ostracized socially.
Cyberbullying is a much newer form of bullying since we have only had social media for a couple of decades, but it can be devastating to a child. The bullies can even use cyberbullying as a way to hide their true identity. Kids cannot just go offline anymore; they need to be online, even if they are constantly being targeted by bullies. While you can delete a comment, it can still keep coming back and makes it hard for a kid to move past something they might be able to ignore in person.
How can I tell if my child is being bullied at school?
Unless your child tells you that they are being bullied, or you witness it firsthand, it can sometimes be hard to tell if your child is being bullied since everyone copes in their own ways. However, there are a few signs that can help indicate that your child is being bullied.
Wanting to Avoid School
Everyone has days where they want to play hooky, so while your child occasionally faking a stomachache to stay home is normal, if it begins to become routine, this is a sign they might be getting bullied. They probably feel unsafe at school because of their bully, so they want to avoid being there as much as they can. Are you getting calls that your kid is skipping classes? What classes are they skipping? If it is consistently the same ones, maybe they are trying to avoid sitting in class with the person who bullies them.
If you hear your child say they are not using the bathroom at school or are unwilling to shower in the locker room after PE. Bullies often attack in bathrooms because they are unsupervised by adults and there are no cameras.
Anxiety is a common condition for a child who is being bullied to develop. It could be unrelated to a bully, but if your child suddenly develops anxiety, it is important to look into why.
Dealing with a bully can lead to a child exhibiting signs of depression. They might seem down a lot, irritable, have a loss or increase in appetite, oversleep, not get enough sleep, and more. If you start seeing significant changes in their behavior, it might indicate that they are being bullied. They might be isolating themselves more, spending more time in their room alone than normal.
Changes in Behavior
Is your actively social child suddenly becoming withdrawn? Do you see other significant behavioral changes? They might be getting bullied. Their grades might be dropping, or they no longer have an interest in extracurricular activities or stop spending time with certain friends. This might be a warning sign that something is going on with your child; possibly, they are being bullied. If they seem to be losing friends they used to have, that can also be a sign of the social ostracization aspect of bullying.
Other Signs of Bullying
These are a few other signs that your child might be getting bullied at school:
- Your child gets upset after getting a text, phone call, or email.
- They begin saying they want to quit social media.
- Making negative statements about themselves.
How to Help Your Child Who’s Being Bullied
When your child is hurting, you want to do whatever you can to fix it. These tips can help you help your child.
Talk to Them
The best thing that you can do is let your child know that they can talk to you about anything that is going on in their lives, and they do not need to feel embarrassed or ashamed if they are being bullied.
Try setting aside 15 minutes a day to talk to your kids one-on-one. Let them drive the conversation, whether it is gossip about their friends, random interests of theirs, sports, politics, or whatever else they want to talk about. By making this time, you are showing your kids that they can always come to you, and in time, they might be more willing to open up about bullying. Do not pressure them to talk to you; that can end up forcing them to clam up.
When your child talks to you about being bullied, listen. You might want to instantly jump into action, but it is imperative that you do not do that. Instead, listen to what they are telling you, then ask them this question: “What do you want me to do to help?” Then listen to what they want you to do to help them.
By reacting too strongly, your child might be afraid of upsetting you, so they might not want to keep talking to you about it. Also, do not make any excuses for the bully or try to pin the blame on your child. There is no excuse that is valid for tormenting your peers.
If your child’s mental health is suffering from bullying, consider taking them to a mental health professional. This gives them a neutral person to talk to about what they are going through. While their conversations will be confidential, it can help your child get things off their chest that they might not be comfortable talking to you about.
While the therapist cannot put an end to the bullying, it can help your child cope with it and may prevent deeper psychological scars that bullying can bring.
If your child is exhibiting signs of depression or anxiety as a result of bullying, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about if they need medication. Medication can help manage the symptoms for your child while you pursue other avenues to try to stop the bullying.
Try an Anxiety Relief App
There are many different apps available these days that can offer your child some anxiety relief or panic attack relief. You can also try a guided meditation app to help your child center themselves during the day. These tools can be an effective coping mechanism for your children.
Alert the School
When your child is being bullied at school, alerting the school can be beneficial, especially if you know who the bully is. Teachers and other school staff want children to feel safe at school, so if they are alerted to it, they can keep an eye on it to try to intervene and protect your child.
About the Author
Auz Burger is a freelance writer and an expert in mental health. She has a BA from Washington State University and has been writing and editing professionally for over a decade.