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, blackmailing). 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, and this has to stop as soon as possible. The key to stopping bullying is identifying the signs of bullying at school, teaching them how to deal with bullies the right way, and having open communication.
What Are the Signs My Child Is Being Bullied?
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 about the bullying. Here are some of the signs that your son or daughter might be 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: bruising, scratches, or cuts
- Becomes socially withdrawn or not having friends
- Appears to be overly sensitive or weepy
- Seems to be angry and resentful
- Lost 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. Encourage your child to speak to you in a calm tone and figure out if something happened in school. Do not allow the situation to continue, and this should stop now. As a parent, you want your child to be in a safe environment.
How Can Bullying Affect My Son/Daughter?
Bullying can have long-term negative mental, emotional, and psychological effects on your child. The worst part is, bullying can affect your child’s self-esteem even as they reach 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- May have poor social skills or socially withdrawn
- Loses interest in going to school, thus leading to poor academic performance
- Difficulty in developing trusting and healthy relationships in the future
What to 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, when the bully’s attention is called, this may worsen the situation. 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, then maybe it’s time to talk to the proper school authorities.
Role-Playing: First, teach your child how to handle the bully. Role-playing the scenario is a great way for your child to build-up confidence in reacting to the situation. The best way your child can respond to a bully in school is by being brave, walk away from the situation, tell the bully to stop, and ignore the bully.
Teach your son or daughter how to speak-up: During the role-playing, teach your child how to speak in a firm and strong 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 with a sense of humor also may stop the bullying behaviors of other kids.
How to control the emotions: Remember to teach your child not to cry and not to whine, which may encourage the bully to continue with the act. Controlling their emotion and being brave when bullied will sometimes solve the problem. Bullies will stop if your child is brave.
Avoid Fights: Teach your child not to provoke a physical fight. If your child is verbally bullied, starting a fight does not settle it, and worse, your child may get reprimanded in school. Instead, teach your kid to stand-up and speak-up. Yet, also teach your child self-defense in case of a physical attack.
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 the other kids.
Reach out to authorities: Parents should let their child try to handle the situation themselves 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 reaching out to the principal, and nothing changes). 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.
In the case of cyberbullying: 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 parents don’t know what actually happens there. If it means your child laying low on Facebook and Instagram, do so. Tell them not to respond to the bully or block the bully on social media.
Teach your kids proper social skills: Kids who were once bullied can be bullied again. As parents, you should ask yourself what may cause this? If the social skills of your child are the problem,
If you’re worried about your child’s mental health: 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, learn social skills on how to handle the bully.
Where to seek mental help?
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, it may be hard to book an actual appointment with a therapist. You can benefit from the Telehealth Counseling of Kentucky Counseling Center. You can schedule an appointment online and have the therapy at home.