Three quarters of kids say they’ve been bullied or teased physically or verbally, and yet most adults don’t realize what’s happening. It’s no wonder: Most children spend a good deal of time at daycare, school and extracurricular activities, away from the watchful eye of concerned parents.
By Bianca Pang
Bullying makes kids feel hurt, scared, sad and even sick. It can also be embarrassing and socially isolating, whether it occurs in person or through social media (cyberbullying).
Most kids, especially boys and young teens, are reluctant to speak up. So here are some signs to watch for:
- lost or destroyed toys, clothes or books;
- unexplained injuries, bruises or scratches;
- sudden loss of friends and interest in joining activities;
- avoidance of social situations and going out; and
- faking illness, not eating or difficulty sleeping.
If you are concerned that your child is being bullied, consider asking questions such as, Who are your new friends? Who do you eat with at lunch? Are there any kids you don’t like?
If your child opens up to you, or if you suspect there is a problem, you could take the following steps:
Be available to talk.
Let your child know you believe them and are willing to stand behind them. Demonstrate your concern and encourage them to talk to you.
Contact your child’s teacher, coach or program director.
They should be aware of difficult relationships. Try not to point fingers at the bully right away. Instead, ask these adults if they are aware of examples of what might be considered bullying, if your child is getting along with others, and whom he or she is spending time with. If you don’t feel comfortable during or after the meeting, make an appointment with someone who has more authority.
Is your child a bully?
- Try to figure out what is causing them to take out their frustrations out on others, and be open about getting help from professionals.
- Spend more time with your child. Children need connections to caring adults.
- Foster a home environment of tolerance and acceptance of others. Celebrate each person’s unique abilities rather than their differences.
- Practise positive reinforcement. Be aware when you are being negative, and turn criticism into learning and encouragement.
- Teach your children how to calm down when they are frustrated or angry. Suggest they count to 10 backwards, quietly walk away and find a private space, slow down their breathing or find an adult who can help them.