In elementary school I faced bullying and being made fun of almost every day. I was an easy target — a kiddo who wore her heart on her sleeve and didn’t seem to fit in with the crowd. It made elementary school very lonely. I’ve often wondered how those years would have been different if the adults around me had recognized the ongoing bullying and stepped in to help me.
Look for these four major signs of bullying that could be a warning your child is being bullied. Stepping in and opening up a dialogue with your child could make all the difference in their life.
DOES YOUR CHILD FREQUENTLY COMES HOME WITH DAMAGED BELONGINGS, TORN CLOTHES, OR IS MISSING PROPERTY?
Taking or damaging property, as well as physically harming their victim, is one way children bully each other. Likewise, if your child frequently comes home with unexplained bruises, scrapes and other injuries they may be a victim of bullying.
DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE FEW FRIENDS OR IS WITHDRAWING FROM FRIENDS THEY ONCE ASSOCIATED WITH?
While friends do come and go throughout school, sudden decreases in friendships may indicate that your child is a victim of bullying. Children who are bullied often withdraw from things they once cared about because of the stress of their situation. I know I ended up hiding inside during recess, claiming I’d rather learn how to start programming computers (which was unheard of in the early 80s).
In addition, less popular children are also at an increased risk for bullying. So if your child has problems making friends they may be a target for bullying.
DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE A SUDDEN, UNEXPLAINED FEAR OF GOING TO SCHOOL OR A SUDDEN LOSS OF INTEREST IN SCHOOL AND ACTIVITIES?
This change in attitude toward school may also indicate that your child is the victim of bullying. Children are often hesitant to talk about bullying experiences and instead become afraid or uninterested in things they once liked.
If you find your child refuses to talk about school or other activities where bullying could take place, this is also a sign that your child could be the victim of bullying. If your child is reluctant to talk about their experiences, reassure them that no matter what is going on you are there to help and can only make the situation better.
IS YOUR CHILD EXPERIENCING MOOD SWINGS OR UNEXPLAINED ILLNESSES AND COMPLAINTS OF ACHES AND PAINS?
Children who are the victims of bullying will often make up excuses why they do not want to go to school or come home in a bad mood. Children will typically try to avoid situations where they are being bullied by using these excuses and it is a classic indicator of a bullying problem, especially if these problems happen unexpectedly.
If ignored, these symptoms can cause a child who is the victim of bullying to lose self-esteem and do poorly in school. While these symptoms are not always caused by bullying, they are common signs that bullying has occurred.
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, I implore you to further investigate to see what the cause of the problem is and to find ways to solve it. Children often do not want adult help because they fear that it will only make the situation worse. If they refuse to talk to you, consider consulting your child’s teacher to get better insight into what is going on.
While there are certainly other warning signs of bullying, beginning to understand some of the more common ones could make all the difference for your child.