Jul 14, 2016
Post By: Children's Health
We asked Melissa Faith, Ph.D., ABPP, and Celia Heppner, Psy.D., Children’s Health℠ pediatric psychologists, for some helpful insights, what signs to look for and how a concerned parent can help their child cope with the issue of bullying.
According to stopbullying.gov, bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.
An estimated 75% of children are bullied at least once during their school career, and 10-20% of children are bullied repeatedly over a much longer period of time. Children who are bullied repeatedly over a long period of time are at most risk of problems with behavior, mood, school performance and family or social relationships.
Changes in mood and behavior – No one knows your child or adolescent better than you. If you notice sudden changes in your child’s mood or behaviors (like sleeping patterns or eating habits), these may be signs that something significant is happening in their life and may be related to bullying.
Stomach aches, nausea, headaches or pain – Being bullied can cause a lot of stress for children. This stress can put strain on children’s bodies, leading to stomach aches, nausea, intestinal problems, headaches and other pain.
If your child is experiencing symptoms that get better during long school breaks and/or get worse just before school starts after a long break, that may be a clue that your child’s physical symptoms could be related to bullying or other school problems. Sometimes, physical symptoms may even get better on the weekends and start to worsen Sunday evening.
Losing interest in school or other activities – Children who are bullied at school, during extracurricular activities or around the neighborhood may stop feeling motivated to participate in activities. Sometimes, sadness and loneliness can make victims stop wanting to participate in activities, even if the bullying isn’t happening in that situation.
Avoiding school – Children who try to get out of going to school, especially if they used to enjoy school, sometimes do so because they are being bullied. If you notice your child trying to avoid school, it is a good idea to ask open-ended questions about what your child does not like at school.
Declining grades – Children who struggle with grades and/learning are at increased risk for being bullied, but dropping grades can also be a sign that a child is being bullied at school. Children who are bullied may have a drop in grades for many reasons, including being too embarrassed to raise his/her hand in class, not being able to pay attention in class and losing interest in doing well at school.
Not being invited to friends’ houses/birthday parties – Children who are bullied may stop being invited to friends’ houses or birthday parties either because friends are the ones who are bullying or because friends no longer want to spend time with a child who is the target of bullying.
Frequently losing belongings – If your child begins frequently losing items, like books, electronics or jewelry, this could be a sign of other children bullying your child and taking his/her belongings.
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