“My 6-year-old daughter used to stay in daycare. The environment of the daycare was very friendly and she adjusted well. Soon, the daycare teacher’s daughter, who was about the same age as my daughter, started staying with her mom after school. My daughter told me that they both had become good friends and always play together.
Within a few days, my daughter complained that her new friend had slapped her. I spoke to her about it and felt it was just another children’s fight and advised her to complain to her mother immediately if she slaps again.
However, the complaints became frequent. One day, my daughter came home sullen and complained that her friend keeps slapping her every time she refuses to do something she says or doesn’t understand what she says, or even if she drops a ball. When she complained to her mother, she only asked her daughter to keep quiet and never prevented her daughter from slapping another child. I spoke immediately to the principal of the school and they issued a warning to the teacher, after confirming from CCTV footage.”
Well, I just realized that as a parent, I had my first exposure to bullying among children. Yes, bullying need not happen just in classrooms or among adolescents and teenagers, it can start anywhere your child goes like hobby classes, schools, sports camps, daycare and even online, and at any age!
It is upsetting to know that your child is being teased or threatened or even physically harmed by another child. And children may hesitate to tell their parents that they are being bullied. The reason for their hesitation could be that they are embarrassed or they might feel that their parents won’t believe them or may not want their parents to interfere.
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Repeated bullying can harm your child emotionally, lower the self-esteem and impair the mental health. Bullying can be verbal, physical or relational. So, it's for us parents to learn about the warning signs of bullying. Your child may not be always ready to tackle bullying on his own and may need your help.
Below are some of the warning signs that your child is being bullied at school.
- Regular cuts, bruises, and scrapes on your child’s body for which he/she might not share the cause with you.
- Loss of toys, favorite possessions, clothing or money.
- Doesn’t want to go to school or participate in any activities. May even hesitate to go by school bus.
- Suddenly become sullen, withdrawn, anxious, depressed and moody. There is a marked change from usual behavior.
- Sudden rise in physical complaints like headache, stomach ache etc.
- Change in eating habits.
- Sudden disinterest in studies and dropping grades.
- May start bullying other kids. Yes, bullied children sometimes flip roles and become bullies.
- Change in your child’s “regular” friends circle.
- Hesitates to use washroom in school due to fear of being bullied.
- Is enormously hungry on returning from school. This could indicate that someone might be eating your child’s lunch.
- Talks about feeling helpless, or about committing suicide. Gets into self-pity mode often.
Your child may not always be confiding in you if bullied. However, there might be some subtle signs and some obvious signs as listed above.
If you notice any of the above-mentioned behaviors, it is always better to talk to your child and understand the matter.
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#1. Try to ask direct questions in a soft tone. I don’t see you playing with your favorite toys. Are you bored of it?
I see that you are getting bruised often. Is someone hurting you?
Watch how your child reacts to your questions. If your child fumbles for answer or avoids your question, it is an obvious sign of bullying.
#2. Tune to your child’s body language.
Does your child crouch her back or keeps fidgeting or doesn’t look confident while walking? It indicates that there is something bothering your child’s mind.
#3. Talk to your child to check if there
is anything that she is concerned about in school or hobby classes or sports camp. If your child still hesitates to speak to you about it, try to talk to her teachers or coach.
#4. Keep a watchful eye on your child.
Does he speak to someone in hush-hush tone or doesn’t let you touch his belongings like school bag, hobby kit etc.?
#5. Tell your child that you are always available
for him and you are concerned about him.
#6. Let him know that bullying is a problem
and you recognize it. Tell your child that you believe and trust him and you are there to stand by him always.
#7. If nothing works, and if you still feel that your child is not his usual self, speak to trained mental health
professional immediately. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the help regarding mental health.
Bullying is a serious problem which should not be ignored. Many parents ignore it assuming it to be just kids fighting. Such problems, if ignored may take a toll on your child’s physical and mental health. So, look out for any signs of bullying that your child may be facing and take action, as required.
Also Read: 10 Effective ways to handle a hyperactive child
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