Bullying is something we have all likely been subjected to at one point or another in our lives. It can be tough to fight it off and keep your confidence up if you have ever been a victim of bullying. On the flip side, we may have played the role of a bully in someone else’s life, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
As parents, we may again have to deal with bullies indirectly if our child is facing it or is putting others through it. Many parents, however, might need to be made aware of the issue as some signs go unnoticed. In this guide, let’s discover how to recognize these signs or effects of bullying and also employ effective strategies to protect our children from it.
What is Bullying all about?
Before discussing the outcomes of bullying or ways to reduce its effect, let’s understand what exactly is included when we say ‘bullying.’ Although there may be no official definition for it, American Psychological Association (APA) describes it as an ‘a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort.
Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions. Therefore to consider an act as bullying it is likely to be negative or harmful for another person and also one that the initiator repeats.
Although bullying can be experienced anywhere, school and learning institutes are the most common places a child may get to experience it for the first time. Additionally, a child who is going to sibling rivalry is also likely to encounter bullying at home, usually by an older sibling. In fact, at times, parents themselves may be the bully and are not using positive parenting methods to provide a healthy environment for the children.
Effects of Bullying On Children
Your child may be experiencing bullying from any age, no matter which grade or institute they go to. From preschoolers to teenagers, most children have a hard time handling bullies as most of the time, bullies can be the popular kids at school or are physically stronger. Additionally, easy access to technology, especially the internet, has led to newer ways such as cyberbullying.
There are certain signs or symptoms that can help a parent identify if their child is experiencing any bullying. Some of the most common signs that will help you recognize bullying (both a victim or perpetrator) are:
- Noticeable changes in behavior, such as being withdrawn or antisocial
- A lack of appetite
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Losing interest in hobbies and other activities
- Mental health issues like anxiety or depression
- Anger and aggression
- Reduced academic and physical performance
- Suffering from bruises or injuries
- Loss or gain of personal items like stationery, toys, gadgets
- Lying, stealing, or manipulating
- Being in the company of bullies
- Physically harming themselves
- Drug abuse in older children
Ways to Combat Bullying as a Parent
Many effective strategies can assist you as a parent in reducing the effects of bullying or even protecting your children from bullying altogether. Let’s explore some of these ways.
Communication & Awareness
It is vital to know and understand what bullying is in order to recognize the signs early. Sometimes the bullying behavior has been normalized to the extent that we fail to recognize it as a problem. Thus it is necessary to have open communication with your children about what bullying is and any harmful consequences that it can result in. It will help the child become aware of their situation and if they are by any means being a victim or perpetrator themselves.
As a Parent, Build Trust With Your Child
Many times children hesitate to discuss their problems with their parents, either because they do not feel comfortable or think that their parents would not care or even end up blaming them. It is essential that your child recognize that they can come to you with their problems. For this to happen, it is necessary to build a bond of trust and understanding right from the start. If you notice any signs mentioned above for bullying, talk to your child gently and reassure them that they share whatever is bothering them.
Increase Your Child’s Confidence
A child who is being bullied is already suffering from a lack of confidence and self-esteem. Never make your child feel like a coward if they tell you that they are being bullied. Instead, work on ways that you make them feel more confident and stronger when they are dealing with the bullies. Here are some great strategies that you can teach your children will help them remain cool and stand their ground if they are being bullied.
Inform The Authorities
Sometimes the bullying reaches a level that may be difficult for the child to handle alone. Encourage them to let an authority figure at either school or institute know that they’re being bullied. In some cases, you, as a parent, might have to step in and talk to the authorities or let the parent of the bully know yourself in order to put an end to the situation.
Seek Counseling or Support for Your Child
Working with a certified counselor or joining a support group might turn out to be helpful in order to mitigate the negative effects of bullying. It is an excellent approach in both situations, whether your child is being subjected to bullying or they are initiating it themselves. It can help a child understand their own emotions and learn how to control or process while learning practical ways to handle the issue.
Parents can learn more about bullying support groups at Bullying Support.