How to identify whether your child is being bullied?

How do you understand that your child is being bullied?

Every parent wants their child to have a happy childhood. It would be their biggest nightmare if they learned that their child was getting bullied. Children try to maintain silence about bullying, as they don’t want to lose their friends or are even scared of what those bullies would do. So parents have to play detective roles or question a lot to understand whether their child is being bullied.

Bullying affects almost everyone; each person’s response to bullying would differ based on their mindset. The dictionary defines bullying as “to frighten or hurt the weaker person.” Bullying can happen in many different ways: physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological. Bullying was considered a middle school issue during previous generations, but in today’s digitized world, it has also penetrated elementary schools. So, as parents, we need to be vigilant and start talking to our children about identifying and avoiding bullies.

How to identify whether your child is being bullied? - A blog post by mommyshravmusings

Signs that your child is being bullied.

A few signs you need to be watchful for are identifying whether your child is being bullied. But a word of caution here – the child can exhibit some of these symptoms, even if he or she is anxious or something like that.

Physical signs

  • Bruises, cuts, torn clothes
  • Skipping meals or binge eating
  • Missing items in the school bag or even the pocket money
  • Not sleeping properly or oversleeping
  • Complaining of physical pains like headaches, stomachaches, body pains
  • Bedwetting in extreme cases

Emotional Signs

  • The sudden display of anxiety and nervousness
  • Not willing to meet certain friends and family members
  • The sudden display of withdrawal symptoms or sadness
  • Sudden anger at self or blaming themselves
  • Shutting themselves in the room
  • Avoidance of social media (for older kids)
  • Using excuses to skip school or their cocurricular activities

Basically, whenever the child’s behavior changes for unknown or unrecognized reasons, which the child is unwilling to discuss, that should raise red flags to parents. The only way for parents to learn about bullying is to have a candid discussion with the children to understand what they are going through.

In most cases, the children wouldn’t be willing to open up, as they think that the parents would find fault with them for getting mistreated. The children have the tendency to blame themselves for whatever is happening. This is where the victim mindset is built in the child’s brain. Hence, it’s absolutely necessary for parents to step in and talk to their children about bullying and its ill effects. Also, to improve the self-esteem and confidence of the children.

You might be interested in reading How to teach kids to X-press themselves.

How and when to talk about Bullying to Children?

As we try to teach good manners to our children at a tender age, we can also talk about bullying. Though we might not have to conduct formal sessions about bullying for younger children, we can teach them how bullying can happen.

Ex: When the child starts learning new words, he can inadvertently pick up a bad word from somewhere, and he tries using it regularly. That’s the time when we need to educate the child about the meaning of that word and tell them how bad the other person would feel if we used that word with them. This is the time to talk about feelings and how people experience them.

This way, we can start educating our children about bullies’ words or actions. We can talk to them about this stuff while reading the stories or watching movies. We need to pause the story or movie and talk to the child about the feelings and how we can stop that bully. We can also use role-play with older kids to discuss bullies and their actions.

We also need to discuss with our children that bullying happens

  • for a purpose
  • It gets repeated again and again
  • It’s not based on our behavior or due to our faults
  • It makes the bully feel powerful and happy
How do you understand that your child is being bullied?  a blogpost by mommyshravmusings

We must educate our children that our behavior gives the bully the power to repeat bullying repeatedly. The only way for us to come out of this situation is by exposing them. Some things we can tell our children to ease the pressure of bullying on them are:

  1. Asking them to stop: If your child doesn’t like how the bullies are behaving or teasing, telling them right away and asking them to stop would discourage them to a certain extent.

2. Walking away from them: If the bullies are still not stopping, then walking away from them or not giving them a chance to speak would put them back.

3. Humor can be your best armor: Sometimes, it’s easier to diffuse the words bullies use into jokes with a little quick wit. No one would always like to become a butt of jokes, wouldn’t it?

4. Use the I don’t care attitude to disarm them: If we use the I don’t care attitude and tell them directly that you are not stopping to listen to their words, then they wouldn’t have any other excuse.

5. Retaliating or fighting back is not an option. Just because the bullies are behaving badly, giving them responses in their own language is not the solution. In fact, it would aggravate the situation.

6. Talking to friends and nearby trusted adults always helps, and bullies always try to attack only if you are alone. So surrounding yourself with friends will be of good help.

7. Report about them: There is no harm in reporting about them to the school authorities or their own parents. Sometimes, in cyberbullying cases, we might even have to report to the cyber police. When we are not at fault, we shouldn’t be afraid.

The best way to prepare your child to face bullying is to nurture his self-confidence and self-esteem through open communication. His self-confidence will improve when the child is nurtured and cared for at home and understands that he can talk freely without inhibitions. That will make him resolve the problems in a much simpler manner.

How do you identify if your child is a bully?

Sometimes, we as parents start having this self-doubt about raising a bully, as the child seems to be a little aggressive or pushy at home. It’s always better to trust our gut feeling rather than turn a blind eye to it due to our love for our children. Then, the next question that bothers us is how to ascertain our gut feelings about a child turning into a bully. Here are a few signs that can give you some answers to your gut feelings.

  • These kids often display aggressive behavior towards parents and siblings
  • They react positively toward aggression and bullying
  • They have the inherent need to dominate and control
  • They are hot-tempered and impulsive

So, if your child has one or any of the above-mentioned symptoms, talking to them about their views on bullying would be wiser. Also, it becomes prudent to educate them about the ill effects of bullying. If they are not listening or responding to the parent’s suggestions, then it would be best to talk to the school counselor or any life coach about this problem.

Parting thoughts:

Having an open communication channel with our children and being present in their lives, knowing what’s happening with them, are essential to spot the problems and keep them at bay. Sometimes, asking funny questions is also OK so the children can share what’s bothering them. Whenever the child confides to you about any incident that’s happened in the school, please don’t minimize or jump to solve the problem. Please try to become their anchoring point by providing them with the tools and techniques to solve their problems independently.

QOTD: Ask your child what do they think about bullying and what needs to be done to prevent it.

Suhasini, IP, is the Author of the book “Practical Tips for Kids Mental Health.” As a certified kids and parents life coach, she helps/guides you toward a happy family life for your kids. She firmly believes that “Emotionally Happy Kids of today are the Mentally Strong and Happy Citizens of tomorrow.” Let’s make the world a happy and beautiful place for our kids to thrive.

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