The thought of your child being bullied is heartbreaking for any parent. School should be a safe place for learning, growing, and developing bonds. Unfortunately, for many kids, the school can be a place full of fear and pain, thanks to bullies. You would like to think that your child would simply tell you that they were being bullied at school, but the reality is that usually, they do not. They may be embarrassed, scared, or would just rather forget about it all together once they are home safely. With that in mind, we have listed some signs you will want to be on the lookout for in your child that can indicate they are being bullied.
1. Changes in what they like
Does your child suddenly not want to wear those shoes that they loved last week? Do they suddenly hate their backpack? Often times kids will try to avoid wearing or doing things that they are being teased about.
2. Changes in mood
Is your normally sunny happy child become withdrawn and quiet? Is your formerly chuckling kid suddenly blowing up over small things? When a child is being picked on, they feel a loss of control and this can manifest into sadness or anger at home, where they are safe and still feel they have some control.
3. Changes in weight
Is your child suddenly packing on weight or dropping weight? Different kids deal with stress very differently so even if their weight was never an issue you may notice that suddenly it is. Some of it can be from stress, some of it can be in reaction to what a bully has said.
4. Missing items or broken items
Did they recently ‘lose’ their phone? Was their watch smashed? Bullies are notorious for taking or destroying other children’s items so if your child is suddenly breaking things that they normally took good care of, you may want to sit down with them and find out what’s happening.
5. Tummy-aches / Headaches
Is your child complaining of a lot of illnesses? Does their head always hurt? When kids want to avoid something they sometimes complain of aches and pains that they didn’t use to have. The occasional headache or tummy ache is normal, but if you begin to see a pattern, there may be more to the story than you think.
6. Bruises and Marks
Kids get banged up all of the time, but if you start to notice marks more often than normal, look into it and if your child seems nervous talking about how it occurred, or they never have a real explanation for the marks, look a little further. Not all bullying is physical, but some is so keep your eyes out for anything out of the ordinary.
The best practice is to talk openly with your children about bullying. Explain the difference between normal social situations, like having your feelings hurt when you are picked last or when someone hurts your feelings versus actual abuse by bullies. Let them know what to do in case they are bullied, and try to express that they can always come to you and you won’t freak out, or make it worse. Explain that no one deserves to be treated badly or picked on and discuss your own childhood experiences with bullying. Keep an eye out for the signs, trust your gut, and make sure that your child knows that they can trust you.
One last thing
We can all agree that teachers have one of the hardest jobs out there and so many teachers serve our children, teaching them, caring for them, and helping them for the many years that our children are in their care. Unfortunately, though, the reality is that a teacher can also be a bully. It’s rare-thank God-but it’s real.
Let us be crystal clear- a teacher reprimanding your child isn’t bullying, giving poor grades isn’t bullying, and expecting your child to act like they’ve got some sense in class/cafeteria/bus/etc. is not bullying-if that’s what’s happening to your child then you need to address your child, not their teacher. However, if your child is being singled out and picked on by any member of the school staff, address it with your principal or dean and if that doesn’t get results, go to the school board, making sure that they know that you did attempt to handle the situation on a school level without results.