Bullies can be a difficult thing to handle these days, especially because kids can continue their bullying practices in the comfort of their own home. So what do you do when your child is being bullied? What if your child is the bully? Is there anything a parent can do for their child who feels unsafe around their peers?
How Bullying Can Affect Your Child
Bullying has been in existence since the beginning of time, and it doesn’t stop when you graduate high school. But what does bullying do to a developing mind that has not yet learned how to grow thicker skin and confidence?
Bullying Can Lead To:
- Physical Injury
- Social Issues
- Struggle With Emotional Control
- Increased Risk For Mental Health Disorders
- Long-Term Self-Esteem Issues
- Increased Risk Of Substance Abuse
- Academic Issues
- Increased Risk Of Violent Behavior
- Increased Risk Of Suicidal Thoughts
Studies have shown that children who do both the bullying and are the victim of bullying have a higher risk of developing a mental health disorder than a child who does just one or the other. The child who is at the greatest risk of developing depression according to studies is children who are bullied over the internet. So how do you know your child is experiencing these events to help prevent their likelihood of mental illness?
Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
While many signs of bullying alone can be normal in kids and teens, seeing all of these together may be an indication that your child isn’t having the best time at school. Keep an eye out for these signs that your child is being bullied.
If your child is reluctant to go to school or is caught skipping class, there may be a reason. While this could also be a sign of a learning disability or already developed mental health disorder, this can also be a sign of bullying. When there is a child at school who is making the environment unhealthy, your child may do whatever it takes to avoid them.
Complaining About Physical Symptoms
If your child is physically bullied, they may complain about physical symptoms and make excuses for them. They may have been pushed, but they tell you that they fell. If they continue to have these injuries with shallow explanations, it may be due to bullying.
It doesn’t have to get physical for your child to experience physical symptoms. If they are experiencing anxiety because of their bully, it can cause them to feel stomach aches or headaches.
Depression can start to develop if the bullying continues without any intervention. Depression in children looks very similar to depression in adults. They may feel sad often or complain about being lonely. They may no longer find joy in hobbies they used to love or play the same way they used to.
Children who are bullied can start to develop low self-esteem even if you do everything in your power to try to raise them with a sense of confidence. Kids are so cruel and creative; they can find ways to tear down some of the strongest kids. If your child doesn’t take care of themselves, is never proud of themselves, or is starting to become timid or defensive, they may have low self-esteem because of bullying.
Low grades can be a sign of a learning disability or a mental health disorder, but it also can be because of bullying. If your child is distracted by others in the classroom or school, they are going to have less time to focus on their schoolwork. Having anxiety because of a bully can also ruin concentration making the schoolwork more difficult.
Does your child have a hard time controlling their emotions? Children who are being bullied at school are at the end of their rope. In front of their bully and their peers, they can’t show their emotions. They will just be made fun of or being a bigger target. So when they come home, they have all of these pent-up emotions that may leak out at any moment.
If your child is being bullied, they are learning that not everyone can be trusted. But this can rock their world and make trust a confusing concept. They may start to become suspicious of everyone around them, including their family.
Is Your Child The Bully?
No one ever wants to think that their child is the bully, but you’ll be surprised to know that many of the signs are similar to the child being bullied. They are also dealing with emotional issues that they don’t know how to handle which unfortunately drives them to take it out on their peers. Look for these signs that your child might be a bully.
Trouble At School
While both bullies and the bullied hate going to school, your child may hate going to school because they get in trouble often. You may get calls that they are in fights or refuse to do their school work. Children who are bullies are harboring intense emotions, and it is all they can do to keep it in.
If your child is a bully, they may be too distracted in school to focus on their homework. If they are constantly being disciplined, they may be missing out on crucial information taught in class because of suspension or having to leave the classroom.
Aggressive At Home
Is your child angry all of the time at home? Imagine how they are at school without you there to cool them down. If your child is destructive, picking on other siblings, or having temper tantrums often, they may be doing the same at school toward their peers.
Studies have shown that children who have trouble sleeping may be more likely to become bullies at school. This leaves researchers to believe that one of the ways to combat bullying is to not only focus on the children who are the victims but to find ways to curb aggressive behavior in children and teens.
What Do You Do When Your Child Is Being Bullied Or Is A Bully?
If your child is being bullied, listen to what they have to say. They might not tell you straight out, but the signs mentioned above speak just as loud. If your child is doing the bullying, they may have a lot of pent-up emotions that they need to let out. Just sit and listen to what they have to say.
Take Them Seriously
If your child is coming to you with a complaint that another child is bullying them, do not brush it off. It can be easy to think that kids will be kids and that bullying is a part of life, but it shouldn’t be. This type of behavior causes damage to all parties, and something needs to be done.
If your child comes to you and tells you that they are having issues with getting along with all of the other kids, have a serious conversation with them. If they are coming to you, this means that they know what they are doing is a problem they just don’t know how to deal with it.
Do Not Blame Them
If your child is a victim of bullying, don’t tell them it is because they talk about Star Wars too much or that if they participated in sports like the other kids, it wouldn’t be a problem. Don’t let this situation be your child’s fault.
Even if your child is the bully, don’t blame them. Remember, these are just kids. While of course, they should suffer consequences for their actions, the focus shouldn’t be on how it is all their fault. The focus should be on what you can do together to help change their behavior and help them feel calmer and less aggressive.
Don’t Promise To Keep It A Secret
Your child may want you to keep it a secret, both the victim and the bully. But you can’t make this promise. Instead, what you can do is work with the teachers and the school on how to implement no bullying policies and how to handle the children showing aggression.
However, you do need to do this with caution. If the bully finds out that your child told on them, it can actually make the bullying worse when the teachers intervene. Make sure that your complaint is anonymous and know as much about the situation as you can when you come forward.
Work Through Their Issues Together
Include them in the process to figure out what to do. If your child is being bullied, you can come up with things to say to their bully together. You are most likely smart enough to outsmart a child, so work with your kid to come up with techniques to combat bullies.
If your child is the bully, come up with coping mechanisms that they can try. They are angry and aggressive, find the root of this feeling and work it out with your kid. Letting them be a part of figuring this out helps them feel like they have more control over the situation which can lead to more confidence.
You might not be equipped to handle a child with depression or anger issues. But therapists are pretty good at it. Both bullies and the bullied can benefit from talking to a professional about all of the emotions they are feeling and how to deal with them. They can also help come up with techniques to counter bullying behavior at school.
Be The Hero!
You are the parent! Your job is to make sure that your child grows up healthy and happy. Take the time to get to know your kid as they grow up. Be a part of their life and ask about their school or friends. Your child could be hiding their discomfort at school to not make a big deal about it, but if you pay attention, you can see the signs.
Has your child ever been a bully or a victim of bullying? How did you notice and what did you do? Did it work? We would love to hear about it in the comment section below.