Warning Signs: Is Your Child Being Bullied or Are They the Bully?
Learning that your child is a victim of bullying is devastating, but being left in the dark about what is really happening to your child at school or in social situations can leave you feeling helpless. Below are signs to watch for when trying to determine if your child is a victim of bullying.
Signs that your child is a victim of bullying:
- The silent treatment – if your once talkative child who used to tell you the ins and outs of their day is now the silent type, they may be a victim of bullying
- Unexplained cuts or bruises – a singular occurrence may be nothing to worry about, but frequently coming home with marks of physical violence and no explanation is cause for concern
- A shift in their social circle/withdrawal from or loss of friends – are they suddenly sitting alone at lunch or no longer invited to birthday parties, skipping soccer practice or changing their routine, old friends may distance themselves because they are afraid of becoming a target or in some instances are the perpetrator
- Missing school, after school activities or sports practice – this can be anything from skipping practice to frequenting the nurse’s office or repeatedly asking to stay home from school because they are not feeling well, they may be avoiding a bully
- Repeated loss of or damage to personal possessions
- Change in attitude/mood swings – look for changes in personality traits like anger or sadness, loss of motivation, feelings of depression, or sudden displays of low self-esteem
- Behavioral changes – are they no longer eating or sleeping, do they show subtle signs of distress
- Poor grades – a decline in academic performance could be the result of a lack of concentration caused by the threat of a bully
- Taking a different route/method to school – walking rather than taking the bus could be a sign that your child is avoiding a bully
- Listen to them – do they feel picked on, are they talking about depression or having suicidal thoughts, are they joking about wanting to violently hurt someone
No parent wants to hear that their child is a bully. It will feel impossible to accept that they are emotionally or physically tormenting others. Look for red flags in your child’s behavior before they face consequences like school suspension or criminal charges. Below is a list of red flags that your child may be mistreating others.
Signs that your child is a bully:
- Lacking empathy – if your child doesn’t understand others’ feelings or is intolerant of people who are a different gender, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, etc., they may be a bully
- Obsessed with being popular – the more power a child has, the more likely they are to be a bully
- Too much technology – cyberbullies spend more time online than the average child
- Will not take responsibility for their actions – are they quick to blame others if something goes wrong
- They are a victim of bullying themselves – often a victim of bullying will bully others out of frustration
- Battling for attention – if life at home is unstable or a child isn’t getting the attention they need, they may bully others
The best course of action to take if your child is bullying others is to determine the root cause of their behavior. Be prepared to deal with parents of children who were targeted by your child. Listen to what they have to say, remain calm, and decide what steps you need to take to help your child develop new coping methods. All kids, including your own, should feel safe and included.
Check us out tomorrow for Part 6 of our #BullyingIsNotOK Series to see “Your Child Is a Victim: What Now?”