At some point in time, most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend. And it’s not generally harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, and both kids laugh it off. But when the same teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line and turns into bullying. This needs to be stopped. Here is all that you need to know in order to deal properly with child bullying.
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is when someone intentionally torments another verbally, physically, psychologically, or even via social media — by sending messages about someone, hurting or tarnishing their image on purpose. Thanks to the advance of technology, we are more aware than before of bullying at school and to some extent also know how to handle it.
Bullying is never ok. Most parents refuse to acknowledge bullying either by their children or by other children towards their own child. They ignore it as common teasing and a little fight among kids that are normal. They don’t want to get involved and want their kids to handle their issues on their own. While this might be OK if it is a minor altercation, parents need to get involved when it is a case of bullying and need to raise their voice against it.
Before getting down to understand how to make out that your child is being bullied and ways to handle it, let’s first try to understand why some kids choose to inflict pain on others deliberately? What necessitates bullying?
Why Do Kids Bully?
There can be various factors that give birth to a bully, the chief being a desire for wielding power. Bullies are born young, but if their actions are not controlled, they tend to get worse as they age. Preschoolers tend to tease and grab each other’s things, something which is acceptable at that age. Gradually by kindergarten, aggressive kids start targeting others who they believe are vulnerable because they may be shy, small or simply different. It is around this time that parents and teachers have to get involved and instill discipline among kids, teach them which behavior is acceptable and which is not.
Some of the specific reasons why children tend to bully are:
- When parents are too strict at home, children tend to behave similarly with others at school
- Sometimes children may not get the attention they need from parents. Children from broken homes or those whose parents are alcoholic tend to grab attention by being a bully at school. Also read: Top 10 Signs Of Bad Parenting
- Sometimes if a child is bullied by an older sibling at home, he/she can behave in a similar way at school to feel empowered
- Some children do it for the sheer popularity that it brings along. They want others to look upto them and behave as per their wishes
Signs Your Child Is Getting Bullied
But the question is, how do you understand that your child is a victim at school? In most cases, the target chooses to remain quiet because they feel powerless against their tormentor and are threatened with dire consequences. They begin to develop a complex that they are alone and different from others. Here are some signs to watch out for to identify if your child might be a victim of bullying. He/she may develop any or all of them:
- Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and loss of appetite
- Gradual deterioration of academic performance. Loses interest in school work. Finds excuses to stay away from school. Complains of physical ailments frequently
- Refuses to go to school or take the school bus. Shows no interest in taking part in school activity with peers
- Appears sad, moody and irritable when he/she comes from school
- Comes home with cuts and bruises or has damaged and missing books
- Has fewer friends
- Changes in sleep pattern or trouble sleeping. Complains of frequent nightmares
Do not ignore if you notice any of the above. It may/may not be a case of bullying, but it is always better to get things sorted out before they get uglier. If you suspect that your child is hiding facts, make sure you inform the school authorities to keep a watch and sort out issues if any.
How To Help Your Child When He’s Getting Bullied?
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, try to involve the school authorities and not the parents of the bully in the first place. Here’s how you can help:
- Talk to your child: Talk to your child to understand the problem. Encourage him/her to relate everything to you as clearly as possible
- Have a word with your child’s teacher: Talk to the teacher. Schools have their own rules and protocol of taking action. Make sure you document everything and report accurately as to who is involved
- Contact the offender’s parents: Only if you think the parents of the offenders will be receptive, talk to them
- Coach your child to handle bullying: Teach your child to be brave and handle tough situations. Ask him to stick to friends and report incidents of bullying either to you or to the school authorities rather than confronting and fighting back. Coach them to deal with bullies by looking at them in the eye instead of getting scared. They should know how to respond to a tough kid at school and when they report of an incident that they handled/defused at school, make sure you tell them how proud you are
How To Teach Your Child Not To Bully?
Bullying behavior is a wake-up call to parents that their child has not learned to control his/her aggression. You must opt for professional help and counseling to teach your child healthy ways to interact with others. Here are some ways to teach your child not to bully.
- Children must know that name-calling, teasing, pushing and spreading rumors about others are not acceptable; it hurts
- Sit down with your children and have a conversation. Tell them you love them and that if they continue bullying, neither you nor the school will tolerate it and hence they must change
- Help them change. Ask them what they think should be done for this to stop
- Discuss with teachers and ask them for their assistance to help your child change. Co-operate with the teachers and school and in case there are issues in the family, discuss it with them
- Teach your child the importance of healthy and cohesive relationships. They must learn to say sorry and feel guilty when they do wrong
Bullying must not be ignored and shoved under the carpet. If left as is, it might lead to serious psychological issues that might be difficult to tackle at a later stage. Take charge and with help try to defuse the situation if possible.
Has your child every been bullied? How did you deal with it? Do share your experiences in the comments section below.