sad girl with mother

Bullying can have serious effects on your child. A movie rendition of what bullying can be does not compare to the reality of bullying. Remember Biff from Back to the Future? Marty gets the girl, has a glimpse of the future in a futuristic car, and oh, by the way…becomes best friends with one of the world’s smartest scientists. Or maybe you’re more of a Karate Kid. Remember Johnny? He is relentless, and some may even think he was bullied into being a terrible bully. Yet, in the end, Daniel is victorious and triumphs.

See what I mean? The Hollywood renditions of bullying do not bode well with the reality of bullying. In most cases, the child being bullied has such low self-esteem that they do not have the confidence to triumph.

The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2019, in the United States, one in five students ages 12 – 18 have been bullied during the school year. The most commonly reported type of bullying is verbal harassment (79 percent), followed by social harassment (50 percent), physical bullying (29 percent), and cyberbullying (25 percent). And as children get older, they are less likely to report the bullying to an adult. Children are now faced with a new form and intensity of bullying – that their parents have never dealt with. Social media has created an entirely different layer of bullying and has made it a non-stop endeavor. The harsh words and insensitive actions are shielded by technology. Now kids can bully others without seeing the expression of their peers.

You’re probably thinking, what can I do? How do I know if my child is being bullied? Let’s go over the top five signs which suggest your child is being bullied.

Displays unusual anxious behavior and suffers from low self-esteem.

It’s important to remember that teenagers experience a whirlwind of emotions and feelings as their hormones kick in; therefore, some of these emotional changes related to anxiety and self-esteem may be escalated because of hormones and puberty. However, if you notice dramatic highs and lows with your child, this could be an indicator that your child is experiencing some form of bullying.

Common symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, restlessness, or being tense, feelings of danger, panic, or dread. Anxious behavior may be an increased heart rate, hyperventilation, sweating, trembling, feeling tired or weak, trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the issue of worry.

On the other hand, low self-esteem isn’t always as visible; however, you’ll notice hypervigilant and hyperalert signs of rejection stemming from rejection and inadequacy. Your child may become super aware of what they wear and how others perceive their appearance. Things they normally do not care about may now become a priority – when it comes to their appearance and how others could perceive them.

 A loss in appetite.

Think about it, when you are experiencing a troublesome time you may forget to eat, and not value the need for nourishment. This is why meal trains are created by loved ones when we experience difficult times. If your child begins expressing a loss in appetite, make sure that you encourage and calmly reinforce healthy eating habits, and how good food can affect our mood and overall mindset.

If parents do not address the issue and educate their children on healthy eating habits, their children could be more suspectable to eating disorders or other forms of malnutrition.

Creates excuses on why they can’t go or don’t want to go to school.

If your child begins expressing angst about attending school or other activities, this may be an indicator that they are experiencing negative actions by a bully. Generally, the easiest solution in a child’s mind is to remove themselves from the bullying environment. No longer attending school or missing out on extracurricular activities may appear like a feasible solution to your child. It’s important to react positively if your child displays concerns.

What does reacting positively mean? It simply means encouraging your child to not lash out and participate in bullying behavior in retaliation. Encourage your child to speak with a teacher or group leader – in a lot of cases, having an adult step in will end the issue. If the actions continue, it may be time for you as a parent to step in.

Regardless, teach your child to speak up and against the bullying nature. It’s important that your child identifies their own self-worth and standing up for themselves is a big way they can own their space.

Missing their belongings and/or has unexplainable cuts and bruises.

Before you get worried, it’s totally normal for children to fall on the playground or lose a hoodie. However, if there are larger items missing and unexplainable cuts and/or bruises, then it’s important to be concerned. A bully wants to exude force on their victims, and one of those instances is being physical and removing the existing security a person possesses.

A bully will cause physical harm to another child in an attempt to exert dominance over their victim. They’ll take belongings as a way of demoralizing a peer and creating a sense of ownership on their territory. It’s important to be proactive and discuss responsive actions with your child.

Expresses a rollercoaster of emotions and has difficulty sleeping.

A child dealing with a bully will most likely have an array of emotions – sadness, moodiness, teary-eyed, and/or depressed. In many cases, a child may feel ashamed of being bullied and may not want to discuss the actions that took place. These heavy emotions can overlap and disrupt their sleeping patterns. If your child is not getting enough sleep, their emotions will continue to be disrupted and out of the norm.

Bullying is something a lot of children deal with, and as parents, it is important to educate yourself and your child on the topic. Be proactive and create a step-by-step plan of action for yourself and your child. Empowering your child with knowledge will help them assess and process the situation. Additionally, a child who can identify an action as bullying is more likely to react in a positive way and exude confidence with their response and actions.

And, last but never least, actively communicate with your child. Every day carve out time for one-on-one time with your child. Talking, when things aren’t challenging, creates opportunities for your child to speak up when things are challenging –such as bullying.

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