Bullying is a very serious concern gripping educational institutes around the world today. While schools adopt a zero-tolerance policy, unfortunately it still exists. Often times, the crux of the problem are the kids who keep their suffering a secret. Jyotika Aggarwal, Clinical Psychologist reveals strategies for parents to initiate that conversation with kids.
At such an impressionable age, it is hard for the “bullied” to stand up for themselves. Getting the message that they are not “good enough”, children start to believe it. They are afraid of being judged as “weak” or being threatened, therefore, they don’t see the option of talking to their parents about it. To the bullied child, it feels like a lose-lose situation. Hence, it is of utmost importance to talk openly and to educate your child about it. This includes telling them about the four types of bullying: verbal—which involves teasing, writing mean messages, or name-calling, physical—which involves hitting, tripping, or breaking things, social— which could be spreading rumors and leaving someone out, and cyber bullying, which includes posting hurtful comments/pictures/videos.
Parents need to send the message loud and clear that bullying is unacceptable and no matter what the bully threatens, your child must never keep it a secret from you. Extinguishing bullying is as important as being able to identify it. To achieve this, it is necessary to create an empathetic and safe environment, where a child can immediately approach an adult for help. Taking assertive, quick, and organized action towards the bully sets an example to keep other bullies at bay. It also encourages bystanders and other bullied children to come forward. Parents and institutions must make it a goal to be vigilant and protect their children from this damaging experience.
THE HIDDEN SIGNS OF BULLYING PARENTS SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR
• Unexplained bruises or random complaints of body aches or illnesses so as to avoid school.
• Books being torn or things missing.
• Sudden mood swings, increased irritability, crying or the desire to “be left alone”.
• Sudden nightmares, crying while sleeping, or even bed-wetting is a red flag.
• Not wanting to go to school nor wanting to talk about school anymore.
• Changes in perception of self and ability—for example, sudden thoughts like “I’m a loser”.
• Talk of suicide or self-destructive behavior.