Is Your Child Being Bullied?

One in ten children gets bullied every day.
Hundreds of children don’t go to school because of their fear of being bullied.
What does this say about us and our school culture?
Children start complaining about bullying as early as elementary school, and, if bullying is allowed to go unchecked, it can have lasting and detrimental effects on our children.
Is your child being bullied?
Here are some of the signs to look for:
  1. A change in school grades;
  2. A change of social behavior – for example, not wanting to go to school;
  3. Complaints of illness, withdrawal;
  4. Aggression, a change in eating habits, sleeping habits;
  5. Regressive behavior such as bed wetting;
  6. Loss of personal possessions, such as books, pens, notebooks, articles of clothing, jewelry and even lunch;
  7. Anxious behavior;
  8. Any changes from the normal day-to-day.
Know your child
Pay attention, and know your child so that you can recognize the signs of stress.
Talk to your child, and ask him to tell you what is going on. Then listen, giving your child your total attention without any criticism.
Don’t blame your child or discount his feelings.
Remember, bullying takes on many forms – not just a physical form. Emotional bullying is equally as painful and just as damaging.
Don’t use phrases such as “You can take it” or “Don’t be a baby”, or “Words can’t hurt you” – they can and they do. They hurt the spirit and can cause a feeling of free floating anxiety which can make a child experience low self esteem – that there must be something wrong with him. This feeling of low self worth can follow your child for the rest of his life.
Strategies for parents of children who are being bullied
Parents must partner with the school as well as with other parents to teach their children the rules of social engagement. If parents respect themselves, they will respect their children, and their children will respect themselves and the community at large.
  • Teach your child how to get along socially in the world. That means that your child should be taught at home and at school to have self-value.
  • If a child is the recipient of bullying, he should report that inappropriate behavior to the proper authorities immediately. That means to you, his parents, as well as to his teacher and, if the inappropriate behavior continues, to the principal.
  • As parents, you must advocate for your child. Your child must be able to count on you to advocate for him, no matter what. You must follow the same chain of command by reporting the inappropriate incident first to the teacher then to the principal. Here it is important to note that you must make it clear that bullying is unacceptable behavior and that it must stop immediately. Now this is positive assertive behavior and should be modeled by you, the parent, to your child.
  • Talk to the bully’s parents. This is necessary to constructively and positively help not only your child, but the offending child. By calling attention to the bully’s misbehavior, the parents have a chance and an option to intervene and help their child remediate. These problems tend to escalate, and bullies who violate other people’s rights can end up with problems and can ultimately end up violating the law.
  • Partner with your child’s school to add to their curriculum a program that is based on the empathic process. This is an approach which teaches through communication and listening skills, role playing and modeling both what it feels like to be bullied and how to develop more successful approaches to get what you want in social interactions. Fellow students, the teacher, and the school, as well as parents, become a support system for the child so that he can deal with the baggage he comes to school with, find a win-win approach for problem-solving, and learn through parents and teachers how to walk successfully through the world. In a sense the parent and the teachers create a problem-solving model which gives children daily strategies that help them in all of their social encounters.
  • Also built into the curriculum should be strategy for consequences and rewards. This allows for the teaching of responsible appropriate behavior, as well as the consequences when or if such behavior is violated. Consequences might even include, in the most severe cases, isolation for the bully, or removal from the school. The idea of school as a safe environment in which children can learn not only academically but also how to become good citizens can happen, if the school addresses these issues with children in a positive win-win approach.