Warning Signs Of Bullying And Getting Your Child To Talk About It

Up to one-third of children bullied in school may be targeted because of having a food allergy.

Although there's currently a strong movement to end bullying in schools, such things are generally slow to change. Parents should educate themselves about bullying and be on the lookout for signs of unspoken distress in their kids.

Signs of Bullying

Children may not tell their parents about being bullied because of the shame, embarrassment or fear that bullying generates in victims. However, when kids are bullied, certain behaviors often reveal the problem.

  • A child being bullied may lose three things. First, they might “lose” or have damaged personal items, electronic devices, or articles of clothing. They also sometimes lose friends or are reluctant to engage in social activities they typically enjoy. They may appear upset after talking on the phone or spending time online. In addition, bullied children are anxious and often lose sleep.
  • Kids distressed by bullying frequently undergo a change in eating habits. This could be either a lack of appetite or eating more than usual.
  • Because bullied children are worried, they are often distracted in school and their academic performance may drop.
  • Bullied individuals may act increasingly helpless, irritable, withdrawn, depressed, or timid. They might engage in aggressive and possibly self-destructive behavior.

If you think your child is being bullied, you might get them to open up by telling them what you have observed.

For instance, you might say; “Sarah, I know something is upsetting you. I’ve noticed you haven’t been eating much supper, and you’re exhausted in the mornings. You haven’t been on the phone with your friends lately either. I wonder if something is going on at school, or if other kids are giving you a hard time.”

Getting Kids to Talk

Another effective way to get kids talking is using books about bullying. These books are suitable for children in elementary school and for young teens.

  1. "Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way” by Patti Kelley Criswell.
    Written for girls, the books informs the reader on how to recognize bullying and speak out against it.
  2. "Stick Up for Yourself: Every Kid’s Guide to Personal Power & Positive Self-Esteem” by Gershen Kaufrman, Lev Raphael, and Pamela Espeland.

    The book was written for those who have been bossed around, picked on, or treated unfairly.

  3. "Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are” by Maria Dismondy.

    This book shares a story about having the courage to embrace differences and to be yourself.

  4. "Confessions of a Former Bully” by Trudy Ludwig.

    Written from the perspective of a former bully, this book combines storytelling with practical suggestions for students, teachers, and parents.

  5. "Speak Up and Get Along!: Learn the Mighty Might, Thought Chop, and More Tools to Make Friends, Stop Teasing, and Feel Good About Yourself” by Scott Cooper.

    This book provides kids with a valuable set of social skills and strategies to bolster self-confidence.

  6. "The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens” by Sean Covey.

    This is the book you may wish was available when you were a teen. It covers bullying and more such as relationships, addictions, the media, and academic stress.

The books are all available on Amazon.

Source: Mayo Clinic; FARE
Photo credit: Wisam Daoud / flickr creative commons

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