Bullying is any aggressive behavior intending to cause distress, fear or harm to another person. It can happen at school, on the playground or in the neighborhood. Bullies injure other children verbally, physically, socially or psychologically. Bullying is repeated because the perpetrator feels powerful. If you suspect that your child is the victim of bullying, watch out for these five warning signs:
Children who are usually happy and outgoing unexpectedly become withdrawn and fearful. Their personality or behavior regresses to being sullen, evasive, sad or moody. A child who usually has no problem going out the door each morning suddenly decides they do not want to attend school or join in any activities with other children. Bullied children often express that they feel lonely or that they have no friends. Young children who are bullied do not want to be left alone and become clingy.
Bumps and bruises are normal for children when they play, but unusual or frequent facial or head marks, cuts, scratches or an unexplained limp are reasons for concern. Children that complain of head or stomachaches or frequent the school nurse's office could be suffering from physical abuse. Conditions like these are the result of pinches, kicks, punches, trips, pushes or other aggressive behavior by a bully.
If a child is verbally or physically abused, their self-esteem diminishes. They express that they are "not good enough" and blame themselves for their problems. They have sleep difficulties and nightmares. Children who are bullied cry more often easily and may even wet the bed.
Their interaction with their siblings becomes strained. They take out their frustrations on them as a way to deal with the abuse. A child who is emotionally distressed stops eating regularly or eats more as a way to cope. Things that they once enjoyed do not seem interesting anymore. They may also become obsessed with how others view them on social media or suddenly get off social media all together.
Once a bully has established his unchecked dominance over another child, they make demands on them. Money, toys, homework, school supplies and food become ultimatums. They take backpacks and steal whatever they want. They tear clothes to further mistreat the victim. A child whose possessions are often "lost" or damaged are covering up where they actually are to avoid further confrontations. Additionally, children who are ravenous when they return home from school could have fallen prey to a bully.
Children who are bullied suddenly have a significant drop in their grades or performance. They are unable to concentrate on their assignments or focus on the task at hand. Their minds are full of worry about what could happen later and they feel helpless to control the situation.
These above are typical warning signs that a child is being bullied and needs your support. You know your child better than any other. Every child is different and has an occasional "off" day. Look for changes in patterns of behavior typical for your child. Any of these signs could be indicative of other problems, but are definitely worth looking into.
If your child is being bullied, check out StopBullying.Gov for additional help and resources.
This article was originally published on Smarter Parenting. It has been republished here with permission.