Like most moms and dads, I happen to think my children are awesome. They’re cute, funny, and smart. I can’t imagine why anyone of any age wouldn’t want to hang out with them. I certainly can’t fathom why another kid would tease them at school, but bullying exists, and like other evils, it defies logic. Understanding why it happens may be helpful for the long-term, but in the short-term, we parents need to empower our children by preparing them for the worst.
When Does Bullying Start?
When we typically think of bullies, we often get an image of a big, tough, scary looking kid who towers over others, but this isn’t always the case. Experts say that bullying can start as early as the age of three, and bullies come in all shapes and sizes.
What to Tell Your Child
Since bullying can occur in any grade level, it’s best to talk your child sooner rather than later about how to handle it if and when it happens to him. Here’s what you can tell them:
- Bullying happens because of an issue with the bully. It has nothing to do with the victim’s flaws. Make sure your child knows that if he does get bullied, it’s not his fault, and he doesn’t deserve it.
- Bullying is a real issue. Be sure that your child knows that it’s not okay for kids to tease, taunt, or hit him at school. Instruct him that if this does happen that he should tell an adult at school like the teacher, principal, or guidance counselor.
- Bullies want attention. There are a lot of different reasons why kids become bullies, but at the root of bullying is the need for attention. Tell your child to try not to react to the bully by crying or teasing him back. Instead, avoid the bully and tell an adult.
- Kids who are bullied can and should feel good about themselves. No one likes to be picked on, but make sure your child knows that she is in control of how she feels. Tell her that no one can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them.
How Do You Know If Your Child Is Being Bullied?
In the ideal scenario, your child will come to you if he or she is being bullied, but not all children who are bullied tell their parents. Some don’t tell anyone. This is a scary thing to even consider, but luckily, there are signs that you can look for that may indicate the effects of bullying:
- Suddenly dislikes school
- Becomes more attached to you than usual
- Visits the school nurse often
- Has frequent headaches or stomachaches
- Is moody or irritable
- Has trouble sleeping
Of course, these aren’t the only signs; there are many other indicators of bullying. You know your child better than anyone, though, and if something is awry, you’ll likely know it.
Seeing your child teased can be heartbreaking, but it’s important that your child learn to deal with bullies. Unfortunately, you can’t fight all of your child’s battles forever, but you can give them the tools to stand up for themselves and preserve their self-esteem.
Has your child been teased at school? What did you do about it?