As a parent, you want to do everything you can to ensure your child grows up healthy in all aspects. One thing your child may have to contend with that can definitely be detrimental to his or her health is bullying. Unfortunately, in today’s busy world—with ever-changing technology—monitoring whether or not your child is being bullied can be difficult. Here are some signs to be on the lookout for:
First off, don’t assume bullying can’t happen to your child. You may think that your child is too nice, too well liked, or too something to be a victim of bullying, but you very well may be wrong. According to the Character Education Partnership, 160,000 children skip school every day in the United States because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students.
Any of the following may be signs of bullying. However, be aware that everyone (even your child) has “off” days, so a single day or a single instance may not be proof that he or she is being bullied. Be on the lookout for:
- Unexplained injuries like bruises
- Unexplained forgetfulness when items like lunch money, toys, clothing, etc. go missing
- Unexplained fear of riding the school bus, walking to school, engaging in activities, or going to school in general
- Sudden changes in mood that can’t be adequately explained, such as being withdrawn, anxious, or lonely
- Difficulty sleeping, including nightmares and bed wetting
- Unexplained changes in eating habits
- Suddenly not wanting to be around classmates that were previously friends
- Sudden drop in grades
- Clearing or hiding the computer or phone screen when you’re around
- Spending long hours online while seeming tense or upset
If you suspect your child is being bullied, it may seem best to let him or her deal with it and to just brush the matter off as “kid stuff.” That typically isn’t wise. You may believe that your child would come to you if the bullying were really that bad; however, that isn’t always the case. A child may feel embarrassed or think you won’t understand, therefore keeping the problem hidden.
If you think your child is being bullied, try asking him or her direct questions about the signs you’ve noticed. The Character Education Partnership recommends tuning into your child’s body language when you are asking these direct questions. He or she may not verbally admit to bullying, but body language will reveal the truth.
In addition, make sure your child knows that you are there for him or her and always available to talk. Don’t make your child feel like his or her problem is inconsequential.
Once you have confirmed that your child is being bullied, consult with his or her teachers or school authorities to find a solution. If the school is not responsive to the issue or the bullying has resulted in serious injury to your child, consider consulting an attorney. In addition, you may want to consider getting your child a professional therapist to talk to in order to help get him or her back on the path to true emotional health.