It's every parent's nightmare to have a child who's bullied at school. The helplessness and stress can eat away at you. Not being able to protect your child when he needs it can be a dreadful burden to carry, but if you're able to recognize the signs and act accordingly, you can nip the problem in the bud and prevent any further trauma. Here are some signs and tips on how to deal with bullying:
Signs your child is being bullied:
Decreased interest in enjoyable activities. If you notice he's not interested in activities or hobbies he used to love, or if he's not eating or sleeping well, this might mean there's something that's distracting him. It could be he's the victim of bullying.
Mood swings. If he starts acting out or becomes very sullen and cranky, the pressure of being bullied may be getting to him, causing him to be defensive and disengaged.
Avoiding school. If he has no interest in going to school or starts making excuses to skip it altogether, he may be avoiding a bully.
Tips on how to deal with your child being bullied:
Talk to your child. If you think your child is being bullied, ask him about it. If he's apprehensive about telling you, use scenarios from a movie or a TV show you're watching, or connect it to a story from a book. He may feel more comfortable opening up indirectly.
Contact his teachers. Letting his teachers know he's being bullied can help immensely. They can get to the root of the problem and deal with the concerned parties where it's happening. If it's necessary, contact the bully's parents as well.
Help them avoid isolation. Bullies prey on the weak, and kids who are loners or introverted are easy targets. If it means having a teacher accompany your child when he walks from the cafeteria back to the classroom, at least you know he’s being looked after. You could also ask for help from other parents and employ a buddy system with other kids who are at risk of being bullied too.
Support your kid. Most of all, support your child through this difficult time. Children who are neglected or are exposed to abuse often turn to bullying themselves in an effort to regain some control. Let him know that there's a world beyond the schoolyard and that it does, indeed, get better.