Steps to Take If Your Child Is Being Bullied
Unfortunately, bullying is a significant problem among children and teens all over the world. Not only can bullying cause immediate emotional difficulty for children, but it can also have significant lasting effects on self-image, self-worth, and self-esteem. That said, this article will advise you on what to do if your child is being bullied. First, it is important to understand what the types of bullying are and how they occur. Second, you will want to be able to identify signs of bullying within your child’s behavior. Lastly, there are a number of steps you can take if your child is being bullied. Read on for a complete guide on how to help a bullied child.
Types of Bullying and How It Occurs
Bullying can occur in a number of ways. Here are the most common types of bullying among children today:
- Verbal bullying (Insults such as name-calling)
- Physical bullying (physical aggression and attacks)
- Cyberbullying (Harassment that occurs over the internet, phones, or social media)
- Prejudicial bullying (Bullying based on personal differences i.e. race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.)
- Sexual bullying (Insults surrounding appearance and body in a sexual manner)
- Relational aggression (Bullying in relation to social status i.e. excluding, spreading rumors, manipulation. etc.)
While each of these are different, the impact they can have on younger children is similar. However, as a parent or caregiver, you hold the ability to spot the signs and provide the help and support that your child needs.
How to Tell If Your Child Is Being Bullied
While each child is different and may show symptoms of bullying in a number of ways, there are a few common behaviors that help signify when bullying is occuring
First, a difference in mood or personality is a common sign of bullying. If your child is noticeably more sad, anxious, or fearful, especially in regards to a social situation, you will want to check in with them to make sure everything is okay outside of the home.
Second, children who are being bullied often begin to do poorly in their classes as a result of the emotional trauma. If you notice a decrease in your child’s desire to do homework or their grades overall, you may want to sit down with them to better understand why this is happening.
Lastly, other common signs of bullying in young children include a loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, nightmares, and a lack of desire to be social or go to school in general.
Being able to pinpoint the signs of bullying within a child can help stop the bullying before significant emotional trauma occurs. If you’re not sure where to begin, keep reading as we discuss steps to take if your child is being bullied.
What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied
If you notice signs of bullying, or if you are simply concerned, we’ve put together a list of ways to help a child that is being bullied.
#1 Approach your child with subtle questions
When approaching your child in regards to bullying, try not to directly approach them and ask. Instead, consider asking questions that will lead to that answer, such as, “Who are you friends with at school this year?,” “Are there any kids you don’t get along with?,” and “Who do you hang out with during snack and lunch?” In natural conversation, your child may feel more inclined to open up to you about any bullying occurrences.
#2 Discuss your concerns with your child’s teachers
If you feel that you are not getting any answers from your child and are still concerned, a good way to get involved from a distance is to touch base with your child’s teacher or school personnel. Simply let them know your concerns and ask them if they have noticed anything suspicious. In addition to this, you can ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye out for any bullying incidents and to keep you informed if they witness or hear of anything.
#3 Seek therapy for your child
Whether your child opens up to you about bullying or not, if you are noticing a shift in their behavior and personality, a great option for your child is support through counseling. For any reason, children may feel more comfortable talking to an outside source. That said, Children’s Bureau offers a wide range of mental health services and tools for children ages 0-21 that can significantly support them in times of emotional struggle. In doing so, you can guarantee that your child has a safe space as an outlet.
#4 Give your child advice on how to best handle these situations
Lastly, give your child advice when it comes to how to best handle bullies. Unfortunately, as children grow, they will naturally come across other children who are not always nice. However, teaching your child how to handle these situations can instill confidence in them which will help them avoid being a target and be an ally for others..
Some advice you can give your child in these instances is to find peers to support one another, practice standing up for yourself by knowing what to say to a bully, and opening up to a trusted adult to help. While each of these may not entirely prevent bullying from occurring, they will allow your child to better handle these situations.
Be an Ally for Your Child
The most important thing you can do for any child that is being bullied is be an ally for them. Familiarize yourself with the different types of bullying, identify the signs that can surface, and act on the ways to help a child in need. In doing so, you will make a significant difference in their lives not only short-term, but long-term as well.
With children going back to school this upcoming fall, it’s important to prepare for your child for the unexpected. For more information on how to prevent bullying, visit Children’s Bureau’s website today.
Susan J. Wood, Former Director of Mental Health
Susan J. Wood, LMFT was the Director of Mental Health at Children’s Bureau and has over 20 years of experience working with children in a community mental health setting. She joined Children’s Bureau in 2015 as a Program Manager in the Antelope Valley and became the program director in June 2018 where she was instrumental in opening and expanding mental health services to the Santa Clarita Valley and Long Beach.