The holidays are suppose to be a time of joy, understanding and laughter but for some it is not. During this break it might be good to take some quality time with your child to talk about bullying and how not to be a bully, what to do if they see someone being bullied or what they can do if they feel they are being bullied. Being the recipient of bullying or showing aggressive behavior towards others is becoming an increasingly predominant experience among students. The cyber space has opened up a whole new avenue for bullying to take place and parents and educators need to be aware of the potential for online bullying. As parents and educators, you are instrumental in preventing bullying and helping students who are both the recipients and aggressors. There are many signs to alert you to students who are being bullied or who may be displaying aggressive behavior towards others.
Emotional and behavioral signs that your student is being bullied
You know your student better than anyone else and changes in behavior are more noticeable to you. Even if you have always enjoyed a close relationship with your student, they may not feel comfortable telling you when they are being bullied. This may be due to fear of reprisals or that you will take action which will embarrass them further. Signs that your student is being bullied include:
- Fear of going to school or engaging in after school activities
- Low self-esteem and negative comments about themselves
- Displaying anxiety or fear
- Isolating themselves from their group of friends or peers
- Sudden unexplained illnesses that are recurring like headaches or stomach aches
- Losing money, lunch and other items
- Irritability and unhappiness or depression
- Disturbed sleep patterns
If your child is the aggressor, there are some signs that they may be bullying other students which include:
- Student may have trouble resisting peer pressure
- They are bossy and manipulative
- They lack empathy
- They are quick to anger and resort to aggression to solve problems rather than reason and discussion
- They have money or things that you didn’t buy them
- They are secretive and uncommunicative
Of course the behaviors above can be attributed to other phases or challenges that all teenagers have to go through, but it’s best to act if you suspect that there is a problem. Speak to your student about their behavior in a loving and caring way. You can also consult with your student’s teacher and friends to get a better idea of what’s going on during school hours.
Most schools have strict bullying regulations and can help you to deal with bullying in a way that is constructive for both the aggressor and the victim. Be sure to include your student in any discussions about what action is to be taken when dealing with situations that directly affect them.
Even if your child isn’t a victim of bullying, speaking with them about it will help them to recognize the signs and not support the practice of bullying and assist students who are in difficult situations to come forward and get help.