Go back 30 or 40 years, long before the debut of the internet, and kids dealt with their problems a lot differently than they do today. They scuffled on the playground or got into a verbal argument, and eventually all was forgotten.
It’s a vastly different time and a vastly different world, one in which school violence has become commonplace in countries such as the United States. Add that to the emergence of cyber bullying, which can and has led to the victim committing suicide, and bullying has become a major problem for children in the 21st century.
Bullying is a problem that typically touches all parents to some extent – whether their children are victims of bullies, the actual bullies, or witnesses to the bully’s behavior. As a result, it’s important to educate yourself as to the signs of bullying and how you can help your child if he becomes a bullying victim.
Signs Your Child May be the Victim of a Bully
Children often suffer in silence when they are bullied. Every bullying victim, who remains silent, has his own reason for doing so. Sometimes bullying victims believe they can take control of the situation and get the bullying to stop. Others fear retaliation from the bully or don’t believe anyone is going to care. Some are ashamed and don’t want their parents to know what is being said about or done to them.
Bullying victims shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. That’s why it’s so important that you, as a parent, know the warning signs that may indicate that your child is being bullied, including:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the signs that your child may exhibit if he is being bullied. You know your child best, so if he starts displaying behaviors that are out of character, be sure to talk to him.
Tips for Helping Your Child Deal With Bullying
Because children often suffer in silence when they are bullied, parents must be aware of their child’s behavior which will likely signal there is a problem. Take action at the first sign of a bullying problem. Some ways you can help your child include:
Talk with your child. Bullying victims often feel powerless and embarrassed about what is happening. Some kids may worry that their parents or others will view them as weak for being bullied. Encourage your child to talk with you and to tell you what is going on. Be sure to emphasize that it is not your child’s fault for being bullied – the blame lies squarely with the bully.
Discuss how to deal with the bully. It may be a child’s first instinct to fight back or to get back at the bully through aggression of his own. Responding in an aggressive way to a bully will only escalate the situation. Instead, encourage positive action such as walking away when the bully approaches, ignoring the bully, and telling the bully to leave him alone. Some children are worried about being labeled “tattletale” if they talk to an adult about the bullying. Encourage your child to get a teacher or another adult and remind him he is not a tattletale.
Get as much information as possible about the bullying situation. Ask your child for the name(s) of the child who is bullying him, where the bullying incidents typically take place (in the classroom or at lunch, for example), and what the bully is doing to them. Find out if your child has approached an adult for help.
Bullying should be taken seriously, especially when a child is threatened by the bully if he tells anyone. Unfortunately, a bullying situation can escalate quickly, so always take it seriously.
Contact the school. Many schools now have policies on how they deal with bullying situations. Talk with school officials to determine their policy and what action can be taken to deescalate the situation and to keep your child mentally and physically safe.
Always keep notes of the discussions you’ve had (including date and time) and the actions the school has promised to take.
It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to fight to protect your child. Instead, try to keep the situation positive. Do not verbally attack the bully. Rather, talk with school officials to determine how to alleviate the situation for everyone involved – especially your child.
Help your child feel safer and more confident. Carve time out each day to read The Bubble: Emotional Management and Protection and Bullying with your child and help him create a bubble of safety around him, so he can feel secure and self-confident no matter what he deals with, including a bully.