No one wants to have to deal with having thier kids picked on at school. However, it’s important to be aware of ways to help your kids when bullying happens.

When other children are mean to our kids, not only do our hearts ache, but we also feel angry. This is a normal response!

Once we know that our child is safe, however, our energy is best directed towards comforting our kids instead of directing outrage toward their bullies.

Recognizing the problem

Before you can help your kids with bullying, you need to know it’s happening in the first place. Some kids will talk about it openly with their parents, while others may be reluctant to discuss the situation. Knowing the signs and symptoms of bullying is important when you have a child who is hesitant in speaking up.

Signs and symptoms of bullying in children

  1. Physical signs: Watch for unexplained bruises, scratches, or other injuries. Take note of damaged clothing or belongings, missing items, or changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  2. Emotional signs: Children who are experiencing bullying may show signs of anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, fear, low self-esteem, and social withdrawal.
  3. Behavioral signs: When bullying happens, kids might refuse to go to school or skip classes. Their grades could suddenly drop, or they may experience an unexplained loss of interest in activities.
  4. Verbal signs: Look out for your child using negative self-talk, or expressing feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Notice if they are making negative comments about themselves or others.
  5. Cyberbullying signs: Observe how your child interacts when using their phone. Are they hiding the screen? Acting anxious or stressed when receiving notifications? Do they show signs of sadness or anger after using the internet or a phone?

If you notice a combination of these signs or a significant change in your child’s behavior or mood, it’s essential to talk to them and try to identify the underlying cause.

A personal story

One afternoon when I was chatting with my teenager, I noticed that he was more irritable than usual. He seemed angry for no reason and very upset when he couldn’t hang out with his friends. This led me to believe something else was going on. After some probing, he told me about bullying incidents that had been on going for weeks. He thought he could handle them on his own, but they were continually escalating.

By noticing a change in my child’s behavior, I was able to determine that bullying was the root cause of his mood alterations. We were then able to work together to find solutions to his problems.

The importance of addressing bullying

When we ignore, or don’t address bulling, there are short term and long term negative effects that our children may experience.

Psychological effects of bullying

  • Short-term and long-term effects on mental health: Bullying can have both short-term and long-term effects on mental health, including increased anxiety, depression, and other psychological distress.
  • Impact on self-esteem and self-worth: Bullying can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem and self-worth, leading to a decreased sense of self-confidence.
  • Increased risk of anxiety and depression: Studies have shown that individuals who have experienced bullying are at an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression.

Physical effects of bullying

  • Increased risk of physical injury: Physical bullying can result in physical injuries, including bruises, cuts, and broken bones.
  • Sleep disturbances and eating disorders: Bullying can result in sleep disturbances and eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia.
  • Impact on academic performance: Bullying can have a negative impact on academic performance, resulting in decreased grades and missed school.

Social effects of bullying

  • Difficulty forming positive relationships with peers: Victims of bullying may struggle to form positive relationships with peers, leading to social isolation and exclusion.
  • Risk of social isolation and exclusion: Bullying can lead to social isolation and exclusion from peer groups, causing feelings of loneliness and detachment.
  • Reduced sense of belonging in school or community: Bullying can impact a person’s sense of belonging in their school or community, leading to feelings of disengagement and detachment.

Bullying is not something we can afford to ignore. It can have a significant influence on our children’s happiness levels!

How to talk to your child about bullying

It’s important to have open and honest conversations with your child about bullying to help them feel safe and supported. Talking will provide you with the opportunity to teach your child how to deal with bullies. It can also prevent them from bullying other children.

Step 1: Define bullying

Provide a clear definition of what bullying is and what behaviors qualify as bullying. Explain that bullying is when someone repeatedly hurts, threatens or intentionally excludes another person.

Examples of bullying include:

  • Name-calling
  • Teasing
  • Spreading rumors
  • Unwanted touching
  • Physical violence
  • Cyberbullying

Ask your child about their experiences

Create a safe and non-judgmental space for your child to share their experiences with you. Start by asking open-ended questions such as “Have you ever seen or experienced someone being bullied?” or, “How do you feel about bullying?”

Encourage your child to be honest and open. Let your child know that you are there to listen and support them. Make sure to validate their feelings and reassure them that they are not alone. Encourage your child to share as much or as little as they are comfortable with.

Make it clear that the bullying is not your child’s fault

Victims of bullying often blame themselves, which can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. It’s important to reassure your child that bullying is never their fault and to help them understand that it’s the bully’s behavior that is the problem.

Explain that the bully is responsible for their own behavior

Emphasize that the bully is responsible for their own behavior: Explain to your child that the bully is making the choice to hurt, threaten or exclude others. No one deserves to be treated poorly, and it’s not your child’s fault that the bully is acting this way.

Remind your child that everyone deserves respect

Explain to your child that every person has the right to be treated with kindness, fairness, and respect. No matter what the bully says or does, your child deserves to be treated well.

Remind your child that they are not alone. Let them know that bullying can happen to anyone and that it’s not a reflection of who they are.

Encourage your child to speak up and seek help

Explain to your child that it’s important to speak up and tell someone they trust if they are being bullied. Bullying should never be a secret! Reaching out will help them receive the support and protection they deserve. A qualified adult can help the bully understand that their behavior is not acceptable.

Provide ongoing support and encouragement

Let your child know that you will always be there for them, no matter what. Remind them that you love them and support them, and that you are proud of them for being brave and speaking up about the bullying.

Strategies for coping with the bullying

  • Practicing self-care
  • Building self-esteem
  • Learn and practice how to be assertive
  • Praise your child for their strengths and accomplishments
  • Help your child recognize the positive qualities in themselves

Advocating for your child

Advocating for our children is one of our major responsibilities as parents. When bullying happens, it’s our job to step in and mediate when our child needs us to.

Tips for advocating for your child when they are bullied at school

  1. Document the incidents: Keep a record of the bullying incidents, including the date, time, location, and what happened. This information can be used to report the bullying to the school or authorities.
  2. Talk to your child’s teacher: Schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher and discuss your concerns. Provide them with specific details of the incidents and ask them to monitor your child’s interactions with their peers.
  3. Meet with the school administration: If the bullying continues, schedule a meeting with the school principal or counselor. Bring your documentation and express your concerns. Work with them to develop a plan to stop the bullying.
  4. Encourage new friendships and strengthen old ones: Encourage your child to make friends with other children who are kind and supportive.
  5. Seek outside help: If the bullying continues despite your efforts, seek outside help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in child bullying. They can help your child develop coping strategies and provide additional support.

Advocating for your child when they are bullied in the neighborhood

Advocating for your child when they are bullied in the neighborhood requires a slightly different approach than advocating for your child at school. It requires more interaction with the bullies parents, which can be intimidating.

  1. Talk to the parents: Start by talking to the parents of the child who is bullying your child. Be calm and respectful as you explain the situation. Ask them to speak with their child about their behavior. Work together to find a solution.
  2. Review with your child how to stand up for themselves: Come up with a plan for how your child can assert themself if bulling occurs. Have a plan for what your child should do if they don’t feel safe. This could include calling you, or seeking help from aa nearby neighbor.
  3. Get other parents involved: If the bullying continues, consider talking to other parents in the neighborhood. You can ask for their support if needed. They may have had similar interactions with the family in the past.
  4. Contact the authorities: This should be considered the nuclear option. However, If the bullying is severe or continues despite your efforts, consider contacting the authorities. This could include the police or your neighborhood association. They may be able to offer additional support and resources to help resolve the situation.

Seeking professional mental health assistance

Part of advocating for your child is knowing when to seek professional help from a counselor or therapist. Here are some signs that your child may need counseling:

  1. Changes in behavior: Behavior that has changed significantly, such as becoming more withdrawn, aggressive, or anxious, may be a sign that they are struggling with the bullying.
  2. Physical symptoms: If your child complains of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical symptoms, it may be a sign that they need additional help dealing with stress or anxiety related to the bullying.
  3. Difficulty sleeping: If your child has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiences nightmares related to the bullying, it may be a sign that they need more support.
  4. Declining academic performance: If your child’s academic performance has declined, it may be a sign that they are struggling with the bullying and need additional coping skills.
  5. Loss of interest in activities: If your child has lost interest in activities they used to enjoy, it may be a sign that they are struggling with the bullying and need help to cope.
  6. Self-harm or suicidal ideation: If your child talks about self-harm or suicide, it is essential to seek professional help immediately.

As a parent, it’s crucial to stay attuned to your child’s emotional state and be proactive in seeking help if needed. If you’re unsure whether your child could benefit from counseling, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. A qualified therapist or counselor can help your child develop coping skills, improve their self-esteem, and work through the emotional impact of the bullying.

Final Thoughts

Kids who are bullied need extra love and comfort. As their parents, we are uniquely qualified to help them heal from these difficult situations. Bullying can happen to anyone. We need to always keep it in the back of our minds if we see our kids struggling in different areas of their lives. Remember to comfort your child first, and then come up with actionable solutions. Never hesitate to seek professional guidance. The pain caused by bullying isn’t something our kids have to live with, we can make it better!

For more ways to comfort your kids, check out these articles: Increasing empathy and make listening your superpower.

  • Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA. (2019, October 8). Resources. StopBullying.gov; StopBullying.gov. https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/external
  • Bullying. (2021). Https://Www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/
  • Bullying: Tips for Parents. (n.d.). Mental Health America. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from https://www.mhanational.org/bullying-tips-parents

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *