Today bullying is acknowledged as a serious problem everywhere. Almost all children admit to being bullied at some time during their school years. Any child can be bullied at any age, and it can occur in a variety of different ways. There was a time when bullying was limited to physical and verbal forms, but today, thanks to tech-savvy kids, cyberbullying and other varieties of electronic harassment are now commonplace. Being bullied can take a heavy toll on a child, causing headaches, stomachaches, trouble concentrating, depression, anxiety and create years of low self-esteem and other emotional consequences.
Frequently children are reluctant to admit they are being bullied out of fear, shame or embarrassment. Therefore, it is important for a parent to recognize the signs of bullying. A parent should look for a set of sudden onset conditions that have no good explanations. Bruises, injuries, headaches, and stomachaches can be symptoms of bullying, especially when accompanied with a child’s reluctance to go to school or ride the bus, as well as poor school performance and trouble sleeping or eating.
In case you suspect that your child is being bullied, it is important to establish good communication with them. Talk to your child in a calm and sympathetic manner. Reassure them that the situation is not their fault. Letting them know that most people are bullied at some point during their school years will help them feel not so alone. Make sure your child learn that you are taking the situation seriously and together you will find a solution.
Learn as much as possible about the situation to include who is doing it, when it is happening, where it occurs and what form of bullying is involved. Being careful to not imply blame or fault to your child, find out as much as possible about their response to the bullying and details of your child’s actions leading up to the situations. This information can sometimes be very helpful in figuring out a solution.
Sometimes solutions can be as simple as responding differently, taking a different route or bus to school or walking or riding to school with a group of schoolmates. It is very important that you coach your child on proper responses to different bullying situations. Teach them the importance of not retaliating verbally or physically. Retaliation almost always escalates a bullying situation. A bully wants a response and not giving him one robs him of the attention he is seeking. No response makes a victimless interesting to the bully. Teach your child the importance of maintaining their composure during the incident and simply walking away.
It is very important to follow up on the bullying situation until it is eliminated. If your child has been physically attacked or threatened, contact school officials immediately to determine if police should be involved. Keep communication open with your child and with school officials. Encourage your child to build new friendships and take on new activities that will build their self-esteem and diminish the damaging effects bullying may have caused to their self-image and self-confidence. Consider seeking professional help for your child if you become concerned that the effects of the bullying continue to linger too long after the situation has been resolved.