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What to do if your Child is being Bullied

By Anna Rekal

Bullying can come in a variety of different forms, and it can start as early as preschool. Children may be picked on or teased, or they may be forced into certain behaviors or activities in order to avoid being beaten up or have their lunch money stolen.

Bullying goes far beyond basic teasing, though some people tend to equate the two. Teasing, if a mutual activity between kids, is generally lighthearted and fun. When teasing starts to hurt someone’s feelings or makes that person feel bad, it crosses a line and becomes just another form of bullying. Bullying may be physical or verbal, and it usually impacts children psychologically. In many cases, the effects of bullying leave scars that can impact children’s lives well into adulthood. This is particularly true of bullying that goes on for extended periods of time and that occurs on a regular basis.

How to recognize Bullying

As a parent, it is important that you know how to spot bullying behavior in your own child and in others. Often times children are reluctant to tell their parents if they are being bullied at school because they are ashamed, or they believe that their parents will think less of them for not being able to handle the situation on their own.

If your child is being bullied, he will more than likely display at least one of the following signs:

  • Not sleeping well
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Not wanting to participate in activities that he used to enjoy or look forward to
  • Moodiness
  • Seems to be upset for no apparent reason

Characteristics of a Bully

If your child, or one of your child’s classmates or friends exhibits any of these behaviors, it should raise an alarm with you.

Problems following rules (or just does not want to follow rules)

  • Impulsiveness
  • Temperamental; easy to anger
  • Views violence as a positive thing
  • Does not display any feelings of empathy for others
  • Becomes easily frustrated

Research has shown that children who bully generally come from a home environment where there is at least one parent who is overly permissive and who is not very loving or affectionate with that child. There is also usually a lack of discipline in the home overall, but when bullied children are disciplined by a parent, it is typically very harsh in nature and may be rather violent.

Taking Positive Action

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, or if he starts to tell you about certain incidents, let him talk about what is going on. The best thing parents can do is show empathy to a child who is being bullied and encourage him to communicate with you about his feelings.

You should also try to help your child figure out some different methods of resolving the problem, such as finding some new friends to play with or becoming involved in extracurricular activities. If bullying is occurring at school, try talking to a teacher or the principal to let them know what is going on. Having your child talk to a therapist is an excellent idea, as it would provide your child with an outlet for dealing with his feelings.

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