Heading back to school after winter break may not be the most exciting time for children, but for those who have experienced bullying, it can be a very stressful time. Most kids have been teased by a friend or sibling at some time and both find it playful or funny. When that teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and continual, then it crosses into bullying and needs to stop.
It’s not uncommon for children who have been bullied to be hesitant in telling their parents about what has been going on, for fear their parents will go to the school and possibly make their situation worse. So, how do you know if your child is being bullied, if they do not open up to you? According to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Dr. Erin Leonard, there are signs you can watch for in your children. Some of these signs include: trouble sleeping at night, needing extra comfort, loss of appetite, or loss of interest in something they have been involved in normally. Also, unexplained stomach aches or headaches could be physical symptoms from the stress. They can also be excuses to avoid going to where the bullying is happening. It’s important to remember that not all bullying happens at school. It can also happen on the baseball and soccer field, playground, or through social media.
If you believe that your child is being bullied, listen calmly and offer comfort and support. Praising your child for telling you about it is also helpful. Letting your child know that it is the bully who is behaving badly and not your child can be beneficial as well. Then, work with your child to problem solve. Bullying is used to describe a variety of situations, so one approach will not work for all.
It is usually best to talk to teachers and coaches to explain the situation. Most schools have a bullying policy in place. If you wish to speak with the bullying child’s parent, it might be best to do so where a school official can mediate the situation.
Dealing with bullying can take a toll on your child’s confidence. Help restore that confidence by encouraging your child to make time for positive friendships, by enrolling them in a club or sport to build their confidence, and by providing a listening ear for them. By responding quickly and consistently, your child receives the message that bullying is not acceptable and that it can be prevented.
Lori Atkinson, Operations Director for The Kim Foundation, https://www.thekimfoundation.org/
Lori Atkinson joined The Kim Foundation in May 2015. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in Middle Level Education. She was an 8th grade English teacher in the Omaha Public Schools from 1992 – 2000, a stay at home mom for several years, and then started a small non-profit in her husband’s memory during 2010. Lori carries out many duties for The Kim Foundation which includes: scheduling presentations in the community, hosting booths at conferences, managing the Art & Creative Writing Contest, coordinating the School Resource Fair, organizing the Suicide Prevention PSA Contest, assisting with the annual luncheon, and participating in the coalition’s community outreach group. Lori is the proud mom of three children and is actively involved in her church.