Children can be naïve and innocent to the world’s ugly truths. However, one truth they may be too familiar with is bullying. We are aware that bullying happens at all ages and shouldn’t be disregarded. It can take on many forms like physical, verbal, emotional, or virtual. According to the Child Mind Institute, bullying not only causes acute suffering but has also been linked to long-term emotional problems, especially for children who lack strong parental support.
How do you know if your child is being bullied? It’s important to watch for these signs:
Damaged items or physical marks
If your child is continuously coming home from school with missing items, damaged clothes, or inexplicable marks on their body, these can be signs of bullying. When you notice these patterns, it’s important to provide your child with a safe space to communicate and share how or when it happened. As they begin to open up, dig deeper and ask how they felt about the incident. This will allow you to gain an understanding of what could be happening and what support they need.
Change in attitude towards school or daycare
If your child’s behavior turns from excitement to go to school to reluctance and dread, this could be a sign your child is being bullied. School is a hot spot for bullying, and if your child’s attitude negatively shifts, there are frequent calls from the school nurse saying your child wants to come home, or your adolescent is skipping classes, take a look at what could be causing this change. Ask your child why they aren’t excited about school anymore. Let them know you are aware of their attitude shift and encourage them to share their feelings and what is happening to them.
Preoccupation or withdrawal from devices
Social media and internet devices may leave your child more susceptible to the dangers of bullying in a form that is not noticeable right away. According to Scholastic.com, opportunities for bullying spring up through instant messaging, in chat rooms, and on social networking sites like Snapchat. If your child is bullied by someone they met through a chat room or gaming site, they may not even know who the bully is and may be reluctant to tell you about a problem for fear of having the computer taken away. Signs that your child is a victim of cyberbullying can include sudden withdrawal from devices, your child refusing to share what they’re doing on their device, or a developing obsession with the device.
While there are many types of bullying, there are also many ways to support your child and prevent or remedy instances of bullying. Many resources are available, including Valley Oaks Health’s unique services targeted specifically to help you and your child.