Growing up is tough.
Some challenges kids face are simply a part of the process we all go through as we define who we are. Others are not. Bullying is an example of the latter and is a real concern. With the recent media surge concerning bullying, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. Be sure to weigh the situation from many angles and ask tough questions. There can be a fine line between playfulness and hurtful comments or actions that wound a child.
If it seems like your child is being verbally bullied by their peers, try taking a look at the situation from a few perspectives. Consider your child’s personality- are they overdramatizing the situation? Are they unwilling to admit that something is wrong? Seek the opinion of someone who sees your child in another environment, like a teacher or coach. Talking to them can help you detect potential bullying and can cue them to watch for it too.
Physical bullying can be easier to spot. Look for changes in their behavior or lifestyle. Does your child seem to be hiding something? Are they always clothing that could cover abuse? Do they avoid prolonged eye contact with you?
Other great questions to ask yourself include: Do they seem to have shut down? Do they not enjoy hanging out with friends? Have they lost passion for school or sports? All of these could be potential signs that something may be wrong.
Once you’ve asked yourself a few questions, do not be afraid to ask your child questions too. Know the names of their friends and classmates and ask for specifics, even when they seem resistant. Remember that part of what you are seeing may be normal change as they grow, but it’s worth finding out more. Avoid seeming accusatory or making assumptions, as often times bullied kids feel that they have caused the abuse themselves.