Child Bullying – Reasons, Signs And How To Deal With It?

One of the worst things a parent can ever witness is their child being hurt physically and emotionally. Bullying covers both in spades.

Child bullying is not new, it has existed in our society for ages. While parents are concerned about their child being bullied by friends, it is not always harmful when carried out in a playful or friendly manner. If both kids found it funny, then there is nothing to worry about it. But at times when as a result of serious bullying, a kid is hurt physically or emotionally traumatized; it is a matter of concern and needs immediate interference from parents.

Bullying can be physical, verbal, or psychological and can be in these forms:

  • Hitting
  • Shoving
  • Name-calling
  • Threats
  • Mocking
  • Extorting money

Nowadays, electronic or cyber bullying is quite raging among school going kids. This kind of bullying generally involves using electronic medium, such as email, websites, or social networking platforms.

Why Does Child Bullying Occur?
Kids bullying takes place due to many reasons:

  • The most common instance is when a group of kids select a kid, who may be physically or emotionally weaker.
  • There are also instances, where kids bully others to satisfy their grudge against someone else, maybe parents. These kids torment other kids in the way they are being treated.
  • Studies have shown that kids who regularly bully others are from such family background where parents often quarrel among each other or other family members shout, get angry, or call each other names. 4.8 times more likely to experience depression.

What Are The Signs Of Bullying?
It is quite natural for parents to be concerned about their kid becoming a victim of a child bullying. It is always better to get involved with your kid so that if he/she is getting bullied, as a parent you will get some hints while talking to him/her. Here are some of the signs that you can notice when your child is being bullied:

  • Your kid may withdraw.
  • Your kid may be scared to go to school.
  • Your kid’s performance in school may drop.
  • Your kid may not show interest in speaking about school friends.
  • Your kid may return home from school with bruises, scrapes and other marks.
  • Your kid may return home with destroyed clothing or personal belongings.
  • Your kid may frequently complain about headaches, stomach aches, and troubled sleeping.
  • Your kid may show changes in eating habits.
  • Your kid may show signs of helplessness and low self-esteem.

Why Do Kids Bully Others & How To Deal With It?
Sometimes, it so happens that really sweet and nice parents also end up having a child who bullies other children. The good news is that there are ways to bully-proof your child and prevent him from bullying others.

1. Acknowledge Emotions:
There will be times when your children are angry with you because things don’t go their way. You need to acknowledge the fact that they are angry and direct them towards dealing with the emotion. Let them divert their negative energy and transform it into something positive.

You can also set an example if you are angry, by telling them ‘Mommy is a little angry and upset right now and I am going to take a walk to calm myself down’. By doing this, they know that it’s ok to be angry once in a while and that there is a way to deal with it.

2. Make Play A Priority:
Yes, you read that right! From a young age let your child play with other children (from different ethnic backgrounds, age groups, race, colour, religion). This will develop your child’s social skills and he will understand that everyone is different and to respect that.

A lot of times we see children bullying among children who look or behave differently. By encouraging your children to play with different people they realize it is okay to be of a different shape, size, colour, etc. than themselves.

3. Encourage Kids To Help:
Many parents tell their kids that their job is to study well. The problem arises when they don’t let their children learn non-education related aspects. Assign simple and age appropriate tasks at home to your children and treat them like young adults, and not mere kids.

By this, you assure them that their abilities are highly useful & needed giving them the feeling of power. Also, you are making them responsible for their actions, which works even when they do something wrong, i.e. they cannot get away with bad behavior.

4. Let Them Speak Out:
It is always preferable in good parenting to have a two way communication. Letting children voice their thoughts gives them the assurance that their feelings matter. Always give a platform to them, to speak out their thoughts and doubts.

You may not find it fruitful in the beginning, but steadily this can help you gently guide them to be honest, fair and polite. Allowing your kids to have a “Voice your thoughts” session every week will help them express their problems and good things they experience on daily basis to you rather than bullying other kids.

5. Intervene If Needed:
Sometimes, it is necessary to take drastic steps. Your child is yours to protect and you should never let him to deal with all his problems alone. In spite of all measures your take, your child may be struggling to overcome his bullying tendencies. In such a situation, you as a parent should know when to intervene and ask for help by informing other parents, teacher or his school authorities. You can opt for counseling as well if required.

How To Help Your Child Deal With Bullying?
Parents or guardians have to play a key role in dealing with child bullying. Initially, it would be difficult for you to understand the signs of verbal or emotional bulling. So it is always advised by counselors that parents should lookout for signs if their kid’s confidence and self-respect are wavering.

As a parent, you should always be watchful that if your kid is the one who bullies or gets bullied. Child bullying activities can lead to serious problems in life, and can also give rise to criminal activity. If child bullying is not handled with care right in the beginning when it starts, it may also disturb future professional and personal relationships. It is parent’s duty to see that their kids learn to express themselves in socially acceptable manners.
It is advisable to meet your kid’s school authorities, a paediatrician or a child counsellor to figure out a plan. It should be a joint and careful effort to make bullies realize why they behave the way they do, and how they can change their behaviour in order to become more acceptable socially.

You can also take a different approach by making your bullied kid feel safer. Both of you can sit and discuss how to develop a plan to help avoid child bullies. By doing this your child will understand your support and feel confident about himself/herself.

We hope after reading this article you have a fair picture about bullying and how you can make your kid resists it and build a confident self. Do share your experiences with us.

Photo Courtesy: L.A. Parent

This article was first published on Mom Function

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