Many adults and parents lack understanding or are unaware of bullying. Therefore, this negative behaviour often slips under the radar. Bullying can occur anywhere, from school to social media sites (cyberbullying), to a child’s home. It can happen at any age. The highest bullying incidents occur in middle school, but we can also see it in late primary school. Sometimes, school bullying continues into college or adulthood. Nowadays, workplace bullying is also becoming a pressing issue.
Generally, bullying stays unnoticed, as kids don’t talk about it to their parents and suffer in silence. There are numerous reasons why children don’t disclose bullying, such as:
- Children worry that if they tell someone about bullying, it will only make the situation worse
- They feel embarrassed
- They feel their parents or elders don’t understand and will mock or scold them
- Overwhelmed emotions don’t let them speak
- They feel that they deserve the unfair treatment
Being a parent and witnessing your child suffer from school or cyberbullying is a physical and emotionally draining experience. Some parents don’t know how to help their children and take extreme measures. Firstly, let’s understand the signals a bullied child may exhibit.
How can a parent spot the signs of bullying?
If your child is experiencing bullying at school, playground, or from relatives, they usually don’t speak about it, so you have to recognize the signs. The following are the few signs a bullied child may show:
- Behavioural change: Keep an eye on your child’s behaviour and personality for any significant changes. Children who suffer bullying may appear anxious, sad, moody, irritable, depressed, teary, clingy, or start hesitating in public.
- Friendship breakdown: Sometimes children become separated from old friends because of distance or school changes. But, if they suddenly stop talking or meeting them without any reason, it may indicate that bullying is happening. Take notice or ask your children about their friend’s circle. The most common red flag is that your children don’t talk actively about their friends or state that they have no friends.
- Frequent physical complaints: If your kids complain of headaches, stomachaches, diarrhoea, or have unexplained physical injuries (cuts, bruises, or scratches), there is a chance that your child is a victim of bullying. Note down the frequency and reasons for these complaints.
- Change in eating habits: Skipping lunch in school or binge eating at home is a noticeable change in a kid. You should find out the real reason for it and take the necessary measures.
- Disturbed sleeping pattern: Sudden changes in sleeping habits, such as difficulty falling asleep without any medical ailment or experiencing nightmares, can indicate that something inappropriate is happening in your child’s life.
- Failing grades: Bullied children often have trouble focusing on schoolwork, which results in a sudden drop in academic achievements and other performances.
- Feeling detached: If your children lose interest in their favourite sports or activities or deviate from their daily routine indicates something is amiss in their life.
How can parents talk about bullying to their children?
You can help your children if you know they are experiencing bullying in several ways, such as:
- Be a good listener: It may feel hard, but listening to your child’s complaints or emotional outbursts calmly makes them feel supported and heard. Ensure that they know that it is not their fault.
- Create an environment where your child feels safe sharing with you: Tell your kid that you believe them, avoid having an emotional reaction, and don’t tease your child for being the victim of bullying. Instead, calmly ask questions to gather details. You can also share your incident of bullying to encourage them.
- Talk to the school or teacher: Sometimes, children hesitate to share these mishaps because of the fear of worsening the bullying in the future. Tell your kids that they don’t have to face the situation alone and ask about their opinion before going to teachers. Talk to teachers or schools about bullying policy or code of conduct for necessary actions.
- Professional help: Sometimes, bullying can affect your child’s self-confidence and mental health. A counselor can help your child to deal with depression or thoughts of suicide.
- Follow up with the school: Talk to the school about appropriate measures if bullying doesn’t stop. Tell your child that if school or teachers are not taking action, they have numerous other options, such as law enforcement involvement, switching to another school, or other options of online learning programs.
- Encourage your child to stick with a friend at school: Generally, bullies target children when they are alone, such as in bathrooms, cafeterias, hallways, or on the way back home. Therefore, suggest your children stick with friends in these situations. And if they don’t have friends, then you may drive your kids to and from school and ask the school for someone’s help.
Communication and support are the keys to overcoming any compromising situations. You can help build your kid’s self-confidence so that these incidents don’t hold back.