As a parent of two young boys who are entering their school-age years, bullying is a topic that is on my mind more and more.
Over the summer, my 6-year-old son had problems with bullies at day camp. It caused him to him to act out aggressively at camp and at home. He would get angry easily over little things and would treat his younger brother similar to how his peers were treating him during the day. We brought it up to his teachers multiple times but nothing really changed. The only thing that helped was when school started and he wasn’t around those specific kids anymore.
I know that not all children who are bullied will exhibit warning signs which means it is very important to always have an open dialogue with your child so they are comfortable talking to you openly about any issues that come up in their life – at home or at school. Encouraging them to do things they love and allow them to make friends with similar interests can have a positive impact even if they are experiencing a form of bullying. And as always, leading by example for your children and treating all people with fairness, kindness, and respect is key.
Some warning signs your child could exhibit if they are being bullied include:
- Unexplained injuries
- Lost or destroyed personal items (clothing, books, electronics, etc)
- Feeling sick (frequent headaches or stomach aches) or faking illnesses often
- Sudden changes in eating habits
- Sleep issues or frequent nightmares
- Loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoiding social situations
- Decreased self-esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors (self-harm, thoughts of suicide, running away from home)
If your child shows signs of bullying, open those lines of communication and ask them calmly about what is going on in their lives at school. Give them tips on how to prevent bullying such as being firm, telling an adult they trust, using humor to diffuse a situation, or walking away. If needed, a counsellor or therapist may help to talk about any issues that your child may not be comfortable sharing with you.
If you believe your child is at risk of harming themselves or others in any way, getting them help is important. If you don’t know what to do you can find first steps here: https://www.stopbullying.gov/get-help-now/index.html
Bottom line is, that our children depend on our help to keep them safe. Knowing the warning signs and opening up communication can help diffuse situations and prevent the situation from getting worse, for your child or the people surrounding the child.
If you have been a victim of bullying, remember you are perfect just the way you are. If you thinking about suicide or harming yourself start a chat at http://www.imalive.org