I have had a few Au pairs asking me about bullying. I have decided to break up this topic into four parts.
- Part One – Identifying bullying.
- Part Two – Helping children deal with being bullied.
- Part Three – How to stop a child from being a bully.
- Part Four – How to punish a child for bullying.
“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.”
Bullying Part One – Identifying bullying.
Examples of bullying:
Every day, Harry, 10, asks his mother for more lunch money. Yet he seemed skinnier than ever and comes home from school hungry. Turns out that Harry is handing his lunch money to a fifth-grader, who is threatening to beat him up if he didn’t pay.
Kayla, 13, thought things were going well at her new school, since all the popular girls were being so nice to her. But then she found out that one of them had posted mean rumours about her. Kayla cried herself to sleep that night and started going to the nurse’s office complaining of a stomach-ache to avoid the girls in study hall.
According to national surveys, children and teenagers say that most bullying happens at school. A bully can turn everyday activities into nightmares. It can leave deep emotional scars and in extreme situations, it can involve violent threats, property damage, or someone getting seriously hurt. There are ways to help a child or teenager cope with teasing, bullying, or mean gossip, and lessen its lasting impact. And even if bullying isn’t an issue right now, it’s important to discuss it so that kids will be prepared if it does happen.
“Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them. Others use social media or electronic messaging to taunt others or hurt their feelings.” – Kids Health
It is very important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as another childhood trial or normal childhood behaviour. The effects can be very damaging and can influence how a child sees himself as a person and it can make them feel worthless. It can also affect their sense of safety and self-esteem. In severe cases, bullying can end in horrific tragedies such as self-harm, suicides or even school shootings.
Signs of bullying:
Unless the child or teen tells you about the bullying or if you can see visible signs thereof, such as scars or bruises, it can be quite difficult to figure out if it is happening. There are signs to look out for:
- Personality changes
- The child is acting differently
- A change in eating habits
- Moodiness (Worse than usual)
- They start avoiding certain places/situations
If you suspect bullying but your child is reluctant to open up, find opportunities to bring up the issue in a more roundabout way. For instance, you might see a situation on a TV show and use it as a conversation starter by asking, “What do you think of this?” or “What do you think that person should have done?” This might lead to questions like: “Have you ever seen this happen?” or “Have you ever experienced this?” You might want to talk about any experiences you or another family member had at that age.
It is also very important to talk to children about bullying and harassment. If they are being bullied or harassed (or see it happening to someone else), they need to know that they have to tell someone about it. They can talk to you, their parents, a teacher, a family member or even an older sibling.
Keep an eye out for our next blog – Bullying Part Two: Helping children deal with being bullied.