Is your child being bullied?
In today’s world, everyone including young children are connected to their family and friends via their mobile phone. Due to this bullying and in particular online bullying has become more common and a difficult topic to discuss. If parents and babysitters fail to intervene with situations where bullying occurs they are at risk of their child suffering long term side effects. In order to avoid this, we are here to help parents identify common warning signs and provide tips to help parents identify when a child is being bullied.
It is important to begin by identifying the type of bullying the child is being exposed to:
Non-verbal bullying is quite visible, in these cases, there is clear evidence of physical violence such as kicking or punching. The child often suffers from bruises or scratches that they are unable or unwilling to explain. This can be extremely traumatic for the child however verbal bullying needs to be treated with just as much caution. We need to remember that just because it is invisible does not mean it is not dangerous. This type of bullying can have even bigger consequences in comparison to physical violence. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat can be particularly dangerous as their anonymity makes potential bullies even more courageous.
Who is at risk of being bullied?
Oftentimes there is no reason behind who is being bullied. It can be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many bullies chose to target children who appear sensitive and shy as it is easier for them to intimidate. Maybe they have a hobby that many of their “friends” do not understand or cannot accept due to jealousy. Unfortunately, children with a migrant background are often bullied because of their origin or physical appearance. We want to emphasize clearly that under no circumstance is it the child’s fault if they are being bullied. No matter how shy or different a child is from the rest of their friends, no one deserves to be bullied.
What are the signs that my child is being bullied?
Here we will outline some of the signs parents should look out for. It is possible that every child will react differently but here are some common behaviors parents have seen associated with bullying:
Aggressive attitude: Children who are treated unfairly are often angry with their family members, even though they are not responsible for the bullying. Another indicator is when the child starts to act like a bully themselves, maybe towards their siblings.
Seclusion: Bullied children often don’t want to socialize and feel anxious when they are in big crowds. They are also scared that the experience of being bullied can take place at any time. In more severe cases, they might come up with reasons why they no longer want to return to the place of bullying.
Sudden changes in behavior: School performance worsens, the child is irritable, and sudden mood swings can occur. Often, unexplained crying can be a sign of bullying.
What precautions should be taken when a child is being bullied?
As a parent, your first reaction to your child being bullied is probably anger and sadness. No mother and father wants their child to suffer. However, before engaging in impulsive actions, parents should try to get to the bottom of the issues first.
Talk to your child: The dialogue between parents and children is incredibly important, especially in these circumstances. When they feel that their parents are listening to them, they feel safe and secure. Don’t judge your child, don’t tell them that they have done something wrong, but rather listen to them and try to understand the problems and fears they are facing.
Do not encourage the use of violence: "Defend yourself" or similar advice to this will not help the child at all. On the contrary, fighting aggression with aggressiveness is not the solution to these problems.
Be patient: If it is a mild form of bullying, it may be a good idea to ignore the bully. Although it may sound a bit too easy at first, indifference is a powerful weapon against bullying that should not be underestimated. Children who bully other children often receive too little attention in other areas and feel the urge to provoke other children in order to compensate for this. Often the bully gets tired and stops this behavior. However, keep in mind that the bully might simply look for another victim and continue with their behavior.
Third Parties: If you find out that the form of bullying is more extreme, it may be necessary to involve third parties. Depending on where the bullying happens, this third party can be the teacher, the sports coach or a different person. Ask if they have noticed anything out of the ordinary and tell them about your suspicions and observations. However, try not to make any false allegations, but rather try to have a dialogue with these adults and find a solution together.
Unfortunately, there is no universally valid, uncomplicated solution when a child is being bullied. The most important factor is that you are aware of the bullying and the fact that it can have different forms and signs. Talk to the child and, more importantly, listen to them. The child will feel well cared for and share their fears and worries with you.