The most obvious sign your child is being bullied is actual bodily harm. Bruises, cuts, grazes and spots of dried blood are all visual indicators your child may be being bullied. The first time your child comes home injured may be a result of a rough tackle during a game of football, an accident during sports, an accident during play time, a one off scuffle after a disagreement with a school mate or something like that. As a result it is not worth making a too big an issue out of it, although you should ask about the injuries to see if there is anything you can do, just don’t push the point too much at this stage. Blowing things out of proportion at this stage is likely to make your child clam up and become secretive, which is not going to help anyone.
If you child regularly comes home injured the chances are it is bullying, and at this time you should have an honest an open conversation with your child to find out exactly what is going on. It is important to put a stop to bullying early on therefore this conversation must take place. Don’t put your head in the sand and let it go away on its own because it won’t. Once a bullying issue has been identified it is important to take responsibility and do something about it immediately, otherwise your child will suffer.
There is an old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” that many parents of yesteryear used to quote to their children. This saying is a fallacy and it is something you should never quote back to your children. Physical bullying is bad but it is often the verbal taunting that hurts more and creates the long term mental damage to a child. If you tell a child that he smells, he is thick and stupid, he is worthless or whatever enough times he will start to believe it, which is likely to affect the mental state of the child.
The effects of verbal bullying affect different children in different ways. Some children may become quiet and withdrawn, other children may become aggressive toward younger siblings and children younger and/or smaller than themselves and take it out on them, some children may become angry and other children may act normal during daytimes but have nightmares and wet the bed whilst asleep. The potential affects are vast and whilst many will only be for the short term some may stay with the child for life and affect the development in to adulthood. Because of the potential implications and long term effects of verbal bullying it is important that any issues are identified as soon as possible and are dealt with immediately.
Spotting the signs of verbal bullying is often difficult, however if your child is being bullied you should see differences in its behaviour. A change in behaviour could be a phase your child is going through therefore it is advisable to do nothing but offer support first off. Hopefully, your child’s behaviour will revert back to what it was indicating no issues. You do need to closely monitor the behaviour to ensure it does revert back.
However, if the behaviour doesn’t revert back it is your responsibility as a parent to investigate why. Firstly, speak to your child and ask if there are any problems. It is likely your child clam up at this stage. If this happens do not simply draw a line under the matter and leave it. Instead, have a chat with your child’s teacher or speak to the parents of your child’s friends, talk to your child’s siblings just try and find out if something is going on. During this time you should also try and talk to your child more, offer love support and guidance and try and win your child’s confidence so you will be told what is going on. This process may take some time but keep persevering and you will eventually get there.
Once you have won your child’s trust and there is honest and open dialogue you then need to come up with a solution to stop the bullying and help your child achieve it. Whether it is seeking a new peer group, getting your child moved in to another class or getting your child moved to another school you need to do something that is acceptable to both you, and more importantly your child.