Bullying in school can come in many forms: physical (hitting, pushing, throwing papers), verbal (name-calling or relentless teasing), psychological, mental, and emotional (spreading rumors). With the rampant use of social media, cyberbullying can also occur (like sending hurtful messages or commenting negatively on Facebook).
Bullying can have long-term negative impacts on your child, which has to stop as soon as possible. The key to stopping bullying is identifying the signs of bullying at school, teaching your kids how to deal with bullies the right way, and having open communication.
Bullying can happen at any age. The fact is, if your child is being bullied, they are likely to keep quiet about it. Your child may feel weak, frightened, or embarrassed to tell you about them being bullied. Here are some of the signs that your son or daughter might be getting bullied at school:
- Does not want to go to school (complaints of body pains like headache and stomach pain)
- Being unusually quiet or secretive
- Physical signs of injury, such as bruising, scratches, or cuts
- Becomes socially withdrawn or does not have friends
- Appears to be overly sensitive or weepy
- Seems to be angry and resentful
- Losing interest in activities they enjoyed before
- Missing or damaged belongings
When you notice these signs in your son or daughter, talk to your child immediately. In a calm tone, encourage them to speak to you and figure out if something happened in school. As a parent, you want your child to be in a safe environment. Do not allow the situation to continue for the good of your child, their bully, and the entire school.
Bullying can have long-term negative mental and emotional effects on your child. The worst part is that bullying can affect your child’s self-esteem, even to adulthood. Here are the reasons how bullying can affect your child and why you should address this issue as soon as possible:
- Low self-esteem
- Bullied kids may develop mental issues like clinical depression or anxiety disorders
- May have poor social skills or be socially withdrawn
- Loses interest in going to school, leading to poor academic performance
- Difficulty in developing trusting and healthy relationships in the future
What Can I Do If My Child Is Bullied?
If your child is being bullied at school, it helps to talk to the school supervisor or a teacher. However, the situation may worsen when the bully’s attention is called. Before you talk to a school supervisor or the bully’s parent, teach your child how to handle the problem on their own. If the bullying doesn’t stop, maybe it’s time to talk to the proper school authorities.
1. Role-play with your child. First, teach your child how to handle the bully. Role-playing the scenario is a great way for your child to build confidence in reacting to the situation. The best way your child can respond to a bully in school is by being brave, telling the bully to stop, ignoring the bully, and walking away from the situation.
2. Teach your son or daughter how to speak up. During the role-playing, teach your child how to speak in a firm and unwavering voice. Build up your child’s confidence and teach your child how to say stop in a calm but brave voice. Remember that kids bully other kids if they seem to find them weak. Responding with a clever answer and a sense of humor may also stop the bullying behaviors of other kids.
3. Teach them how to control their emotions. Remember to teach your child not to cry or whine, as this may encourage the bully to continue with the bullying. Controlling their emotions and being brave when bullied will sometimes solve the problem. Bullies will stop if your child is brave.
4. Tell them to avoid fights: Teach your child not to provoke a physical fight. If your child is verbally bullied, starting a fight will not settle it. Worse, your child may get reprimanded in school. Instead, teach your kid to stand up and speak up. Also, teach your child self-defense in case they are physically attacked.
5. If the bullying doesn’t stop, tell your child to avoid being alone and practice the “buddy system” or go with a friend at all times. Research shows that having peers sticking up for each other is an effective strategy against bullying. Also, tell your kid to avoid places where the bullying takes place. The bottom line is to prevent potential bullying situations if you can’t control the bullying behavior of other kids.
6. Reach out to authorities. Parents should let their child try to handle the situation themself before intervening in the situation. If the tips mentioned above don’t seem to work and the bullying continues, it’s time to report it to teachers, a guidance counselor, school staff, school principal, or school administrators.
Suppose the bullying is out of control at school and other parents complain about the same situation. In that case, you can try to reach out to the school superintendent after you tried approaching the principal, but nothing changed. Encourage your son or daughter to speak up if the bullying still continues. That is why it’s important to have open communication with your kid and share their everyday situation at school.
7. If the bullying happens online, the best step is to lessen your kid’s exposure to social media. The problem with social media nowadays is that parents don’t know what actually happens there. If it means telling your child to lay low on Facebook and Instagram, do so. Tell them not to respond to the bully or block the bully on social media.
8. Teach your kids proper social skills. Kids who were once bullied can be bullied again. As parents, you should ask yourself what could be causing this if the social skills of your child are the problem,
Bullying may take a toll on the mental health of your child. If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, seek help from a mental health professional. Counseling can help your child develop their self-esteem and learn how to handle the bully.
If your child has been emotionally and mentally scarred by bullying, talking to a mental health expert can help them heal. You and your child can benefit from the telehealth counseling offered by Kentucky Counseling Center. You can schedule an appointment online and have the therapy at home.