spotting dealing child bullying

Spotting and Dealing With Child Bullying

January 10, 2023
Spotting and Dealing With Child Bullying

There are a few undesirable events that may take place involving your child as they develop and go through various social situations, and one of these that most parents are well aware of is bullying. Whether your child is being bullied or is taking part in bullying of their own, this is something that both parents and educators alike want to address quickly and robustly. 

At First Steps Childcare & Preschool, bullying identification and prevention are key concepts in all of our child care and educational programs, which range from infants and toddlers up through kindergarten classes. And while we take great pains to ensure this does not become a major issue for your child on either end of the spectrum, children only spend so much time with us - and parents need to be cognizant of other potential social situations as well. Here are some basics on how to spot signs of bullying, plus how to address it and help your child move past it regardless of which end of the bullying they're on.

Kinds of Bullying

One topic that's important for parents to be aware of is the fact that bullying has multiple forms. These include:

  • Verbal abuse: This form of bullying includes name-calling, taunting, and insults.
  • Physical abuse: This kind of bullying includes hitting, shoving, and any other physical violence.
  • Emotional abuse: Emotional bullying includes things like spreading rumors, manipulating, and intimidating.
  • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is an ever-growing form of bullying that often takes place on social media or online chatrooms. It can include things like sending mean messages, posting embarrassing pictures or videos, and even creating fake identities to harass someone.

Signs of Bullying

There are a number of potential signs that a child is being bullied by his or her peers, including:

  • Unusual shyness in certain situations: If your child is typically outgoing and cheerful but suddenly becomes unusually reserved in certain social situations, it could be a sign of bullying. For instance, if they express concern about going to school or the playground, this could be an indicator.
  • Physical symptoms: Unexplained physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches, and nausea can all be signs of bullying if they start suddenly and/or increase in severity over time. Children will often start to exhibit these symptoms as a response to the internal stress of bullying.
  • Changes in sleep or eating habits: if your child starts sleeping more than usual, having difficulty falling asleep, or stops eating meals - especially around certain social situations - it could be an indication that something is going on.
  • Visible signs: While rare, certain instances of physical bullying can be visible on the child’s body, such as bruises or other marks.

On the flip side, identifying that signs that your child is engaging in bullying themselves can be a bit tougher, as they will likely be more reticent in talking about it. If you notice that your child is overly aggressive or exhibits a lack of empathy towards peers, these could both be potential indicators of bullying behavior. You should also be mindful of any comments you get from other parents, teachers or other adults in your child's life.

Assisting Children Who Are Being Bullied

If you have determined that your child is being bullied, there are a few steps you can take to help.

  • Talk it out: Sit down with your child and talk about what’s going on. Ask them open-ended questions to get information and let them know that they are not at fault for the bullying. Reassure them that you are there to help and that you will do whatever is necessary to keep them safe.
  • Give them some strategies: If the bullying continues, provide your child with strategies to help them cope. These can include avoiding or ignoring the bully as much as possible and seeking out a trusted adult in whom they can confide.
  • Contact the school: Depending on the severity of the bullying, you may need to contact the school directly, particularly if it has become physical or verbal abuse. They can then take the appropriate steps to help put a stop to it.
  • Contacting other parents: In cases where bullying takes place outside of the school, such as online or in the neighborhood, you may need to contact other parents and ask for their help in addressing the issue. If you go this route, always be polite and understanding with other parents - they do not control their child's bullying, after all, and may not even be aware of it.
  • Follow up: Finally, be sure to follow up with your child regularly to ensure that the bullying has stopped. Let them know that they can always come to you if any issues arise.

Managing Children Who Take Part in Bullying

On the flip side, if you suspect that your child is engaging in bullying, it’s important to take action as quickly as possible.

  • Talk it through: Have a conversation with your child about why bullying is wrong and how it can hurt people. Explain the consequences of their actions and make sure they understand why this behavior needs to be stopped immediately.
  • Explain the effect of their actions: Make sure your child understands that bullying is not only wrong but can also have detrimental effects on its victims. Talk about how it makes people feel and why it’s important to be kind and respectful to others.
  • Set boundaries: Make clear to your child that there are certain behaviors that you will not tolerate, such as name-calling, physical aggression or spreading rumors.
  • Seek help: If the problem persists, consider seeking professional help - such as talking to a psychologist or getting your child involved in a counseling program - to learn strategies for managing and preventing bullying behavior.

It’s important to be mindful of both signs of bullying and signs that your child might be involved in bullying. By being aware of the situation and taking proactive steps to address it, you can help ensure a safe and respectful environment for your child.

For more here, or to learn about any of our child care programs or related services, speak to our caring staff at First Steps Childcare & Preschool today.

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