It is heartbreaking to find out your precious child is the subject of bullying but even worse when you don’t!
Children don’t usually talk to adults about bullying whether they are being hurt or hurting others. They are more likely to talk to friends and some don’t even do that. So parents and educators need to be aware of the behaviours and signs that are displayed when they are being victimized or victimizing others. It is also important to handle the situation carefully to come to a successful resolution for everyone involved. Remember that modeling good relationship skills is very important for children to see from all sides in this scenario.
Children are not always forthcoming when it comes to reporting being bullied. It’s critical that we learn to understand the signs of bullying in order to help them. Here are some of many signs that your child might be getting bullied.
• Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing clothing, books or other belongings
• Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
• Declining grades, no interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
• Loss of friends or avoids social situations
• Appears sad, moody, teary or depressed
• Frequent headaches, stomachaches or other ailments
• Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
• Change in eating habits
• Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem
• Secrecy about, their online communications
• Begins to bully others
• Who did you play/hangout with today?
• What sort of games did you play? Did you enjoy them?
• What did you do at lunchtime today?
• Is there anyone at school you don’t like? Why?
• Are you looking forward to going to school tomorrow?
Note: Children with disabilities may be at a higher risk of being bullied than other children.
Every child is capable of bullying. But why? There are 2 reasons: The popular ‘kid’ may use bullying to maintain power and popularity and when they experience a sense of denial they feel authorized to bully others. 'I have it rough, so you should too; and I've been picked on, so I'll get you before you get to me.' OR; It may be learned behaviour. Exposure through media, politics, TV shows, other kids at school and even family dynamics can take a toll on what a child sees as acceptable behaviour. That's why it is important that we deal with the situation with a calm manner and model positive conflict resolution.
Children who get away with aggression and violence are at very high risk of engaging in criminal activity as adults. This is why it is so important for us to all work together to also help the bullies. Not only are we saving, who knows how many children, from emotional torment but also the future of the aggressor.
First take a deep breath – your child has something going on and you need to find out how to help the situation. It is imperative to work on this issue at home. Make sure your child understands that bullying is a serious issue and that the behaviour is not OK and must stop.
Here are some things you should review:
- Explain to your child what bullying is.
- Talk with your child about what they are doing and why. Listen to the response and avoid blaming.
- Help your child understand how this behaviour affects others; ‘How do you think that made the other person feel?’ ‘Would you like someone to do that to you?’
- Are there reasons the bullying is happening? The answer may help determine if there is something you can change to stop it.
- Is your child bullying to feel more important or in control? Some children bully because they have low self-esteem.
- Is your child misunderstanding messages about standing up for herself? Sometimes positive comments about being aggressive or assertive can lead to bullying.
- Is your child learning bullying at home, on TV programs or YouTube videos? Sometimes children mimic behaviours.
- Monitor your child’s use of the Internet and mobile phone.
- Some children bully because it's happening to them. Look for signs that your child may be experiencing bullying themselves.
- Is your child joining in bullying to avoid being bullied? Talk to the school or club about their messaging around bullying.
- Work with the organization where the bullying is happening. Their policies will determine the consequences for your child.
- Supporting the school or organization’s decision, sends a strong message to your child that bullying behaviour is not OK.
- Find out what you can do from home to support the decision and then check in with the school or organization regularly.
Unimaginable stories are hitting the headlines daily with startling statistics about bullying. It commands our attention and a warranted level of concern for our youth. Both bullies and their victims are at a high risk for depression, eating and sleeping disorders, anxiety and suicide. It is a real life-threatening situation. We need to take every precaution to protect our children against the painful effects of bullying.
It is not likely that we will ever eliminate bullying all together. So what can we do to help them cope if they are bullied?
Firstly, we need to start by making sure they are not exposed to trauma in the home or on TV. Providing a safe environment can strongly effect their mental health and self esteem. This will effect their ability to cope adjust and recover from stressful situations.
Secondly, we need to give them a solid foundation and arm them with 'emotional resilience'. Accepting them for whoever they are, regardless of their differences or from how we expected them to be is important. Children consistently accepted for who they are, cope better with stress and adversity and will persevere when faced with bullying.
We hope to update our materials regularly – please visit us again or contact us if you have any questions.