How To Aid Your Bullied Child
Most children over the course of their academic careers will encounter bullying. It might be they’re the victim, an accomplice or simply a witness when it happens to someone else. While there is no simple fix to end bullying, there are steps concerned parents can take to help their bullied child.
More About Bullying
First, what classifies as bullying? Not merely pushing or teasing in the schoolyard, bullying is usually defined by three characteristics which include intent, repetition and power. Essentially, the bully intends to inflict pain through a pattern of behavior to gain power. It might be in the form of physical harm, psychological abuse or in the virtual world through cyberbullying. Although it can happen to anyone, certain kids face a higher risk due to their socioeconomic background, gender identity, ethnicity or even a disability.
Common Signs of Bullying
It can be difficult to know when something is wrong if your child won’t tell you but there are possible physical and behavioral indications of bullying you could observe. A few signs to watch out for include:
Unexplained bruises, scratches or other physical marks
Suddenly acting vigilant, anxious or nervous
Refusal to join school events or use the school restroom
Unexpectedly losing friends
Poor academic performance
Problems sleeping or having nightmares
New complaints of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
Becoming noticeably distressed after spending time on the phone or online
Having angry or aggressive outbursts
Potential Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Bullying
Intervening early is vital as the effects of bullying may go well beyond a scraped arm or bad memories. In fact, there are many serious and potentially long-lasting impacts when a child encounters frequent harassment. For instance, he or she may experience mental and emotional health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Suffering from these afflictions could lead to decreased academic performance, substance abuse and even suicidal ideation. There may also be lasting effects into adulthood such as issues with relationships, employment and chronic depression.
Ways Parents Can Help
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to completely shield a child from bullying. Keep in mind, there are preventative measures to put in place and steps to take if it happens. It all starts with open communication.
Beginning young, talk with your children about what bullying is and how important it is to come to you when they see or experience it. As they advance scholastically, be attentive to changes in their social circles and their activities, both at school and online. Also, try to familiarize yourself with preferred social media platforms and warn them of the risks of being online. Lastly, be sure to check in daily and do all you can to help your little ones feel comfortable talking about their feelings, fears and any encounters with bullying.
For additional ways to help a bullied child, please see the accompanying resource.
Author bio: Kids Car Donations is a national organization that accepts vehicle donations to better the lives of children. The organization partners with a number of well-known nonprofits serving children and teens who are confronted with physical, mental and emotional challenges to provide the care they need.