10 Warning Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
The start of school should be an exciting time for any student, though for some it is a source of anxiety and fear. Millions of students annually are bullied, and even more concerning, they attempt to go through their struggle alone. There are warning signs you can pick up on in your child when they aren’t offering their words.
School is a central location for bullying. Is your child reluctant to follow their normal routine in the morning? Does your child come up with a new excuse to stay home every morning whether it be a stomach ache or a sudden fever? These are worth noting.
Aches are common manifestations of stress and anxiety associated with bullying. While at first glance it could appear to be a desperate act to have a day off, physical symptoms of anxiety are very real and shouldn’t be ignored.
2. Change in Friendships
Changes in friendships could be a signs of bullying, more common in adolescent girls. While boys tend to be more physical and expressive in their fighting, girls tend to be more covert and less expressive in their fights. This can be expressed in isolating the “odd one out” or talking behind each others backs. Note sudden shifts in your child’s social circles.
3. Declining Grades
Grades can suffer when a child is not at their best. Anxiety due to bullying seeps into all areas of life, especially academics. Feeling constantly anxious can interfere with your child’s ability to focus and pay attention in school. Other contributors to poor school performance can be depression and trouble sleeping. Consider checking in with the school periodically to monitor attendance as well.
4. Crying Spells or Intense Emotional Responses
When talking about school or social activities, a child may have an intense emotional response, a possible sign of anxiety. The emotions are not always so present or revealed in anger. Crying spells, silence and withdrawing from conversation are all possible manifestations of anxiety.
5. Decreased Family Interaction
Note when a child is not as talkative as they once were or withdraw physically. These are possible silent cries to be prompted for discussion. Sometimes a bullying victim will grow tired of playing the victim role at school and try to be more antagonistic at home, for example by choosing to pick fights with siblings.
6. Missing Activities
After school activities may be perfect sites for bullying. Children victim to bullying may pull away from things they once loved like sports or other extra-curricular activities. This is likely in effort to avoid social interaction.
7. Dependence / Withdrawal from Technology
Bullying can also occur online, in which case a child might develop an over-attachment to devices or withdraw completely. Those who grow dependent might become agitated if their usage is limited. Those who withdraw might be hard to contact. Rather than trying to intervene suddenly, slowly work yourself into their space at a rate comfortable for the both of you.
8. Change in Eating Habits
When your child comes home from school, don’t only ask about their day but specifically what they ate. Do they hesitate? Mention foods they never eat at home? A change in eating habits could be a warning sign that they aren’t comfortable in the school setting and are being bullied. The idea of not having someone to eat with and fear of the lunch room could generate stress in any child. If your child is not eating during the day could lead to other scary side effects like weight loss, dizziness, headaches and binge eating at home. Look out for these signs and try to fix them before things worsen.
9. Unexplained Injuries
Your child is bound to get bumps and bruises form time to time. It is noteworthy, however, when your child can’t remember how they got injured, change stories or if the explanation doesn’t match their appearance. Reinforce that physical interaction shouldn’t happen without consent, if at all.
10. Difficulty Sleeping
When nervous or anxious about the next day, sleep can be hard. This anxiety can also appear in nightmares or difficulty waking up in the morning. Ask your child why they are having trouble sleeping etc. in efforts to have them talk through their emotions and anxiety.
Ultimately it is impossible for parents to know everything going on with their children at all times, though by noting these warning signs, you can detect when something isn’t quite right with your child. Even when they aren’t using their words, these signs can help you hear them.
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An Open Letter to a Victim of Bullying