Perhaps one of my worst nightmares as a parent is my child getting bullied — especially once my child started going to big school. We can blame our paranoia on pop culture references in movies, books, and even “real-life” videos on social media. Generally, bullying is not new — all of us have encountered it in some form, but it is pervasive, scary, embarrassing, and humiliating, more so for kids and teens. Kids or even teens might not be emotionally prepared to handle bullying, plus, not all of them are forthcoming as well. So we might not be able to help them or give them the support they need until it’s too late.
The next best thing is perhaps, to be mindful of the signs that our child is being bullied. Your child might be being bullied if:
- Your child is reluctant or refuses to go to school
- Your child goes quiet when you ask about his day in school, or changes the subject or outright refuses to discuss it
- Your child demands to change a routine — such as riding the school bus or school pickups
- Your child does not want to participate in any after-school activities, even ones with old friends
- Your child seems to be hungrier than usual after school — which may be a sign that someone is eating his lunch or getting his lunch money, or he’s not willing to go to the cafeteria at lunchtime
- Your child shows signs of physical distress — such as headaches, stomachaches, or nausea
- Your child begins to spend more time at the clinic or finds reasons to go
- Your child’s performance in school suddenly declines — including grades, homework, attendance
- Your child begins to act sullen or angry, or oftentimes wants to be left alone
- Your child begins to use bad language, which might be uncharacteristic for him
- Your child shows marked behavior change after a phone call or time spent on the computer or mobile phone
- Your child starts to ask for more money for transportation or lunch without a clear explanation of what it’s for
- Your child has unexplained bruises or injuries
At the same time, we should also be mindful of the possibility that our kids might be bullying other kids. Kids themselves might not be willing to admit it, but chances are, some of them are also responsible for “a bit” of bullying in some way, despite our best efforts for them not to do so. And kids tend to get away with it because adults and parents are clueless about it.
We don’t want our kids to remain bullies, so before we can correct, we have to know if they are one. Your child might be a bully if:
- Your child has a sense of “exclusivity” — he refuses to include certain kids when playing or in an activity
- Your child insists on doing or maintaining unpleasant behavior even after you ask him to stop
- Your child is very concerned about being and staying popular
- Your child seems to be intolerant, displays prejudice, or even contempt for other kids who might seem “different” or “weird”
- Your child seems to like teasing or taunting other kids and does so frequently
- Your child likes to play aggressive video games
- Your child hurts animals
- Your child observes you excluding, gossiping, or even being mean to or hurting others. Let’s admit it, we can be bullies sometimes too, and while it doesn’t mean that we’re bad people, these tendencies can also influence our kids. So if you think that your child is exhibiting bullying behaviors, then stop and consider if you show these same traits as well.
Bullying is nothing new and we’re only much more aware of it now thanks to media and social media attention. Ultimately, aside from communicating and being mindful of our kids, we should also be mindful of ourselves. Raising kind-hearted, compassionate individuals will take kind-hearted and compassionate parents as well.