SIGNS YOUR CHILD MAY BE A VICTIM OF BULLYING
I have been often asked, “What do we look out for as parents if our child hides the fact that he/she is being bullied in school?” True, many children hide being bullied from the parents. In situations of prolonged abuse by the bully, children may even begin to believe that they somehow caused this mistreatment. Many kids defend the bully. Although I have devoted two-hour lectures on this topic alone, I have written up a list of the main signs for parents to watch out for. It is important to NOTE; nothing can be more important than the culture inside the family that fosters open communication. In this post, I will include tips for parents on active listening, accurate communication, and safety options.
SOCIAL and SCHOOL RELATED
Loss of appetite
Insomnia: Difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Hypersomnia: Difficulty waking up in the morning and feeling rested upon waking.
Frequent upset stomach and GI problems are common.
Unexplained hives and frequent physical ailments (Ex. Colds, stomach cases of flu, etc.)
Bedwetting (even in older kids)
EMOTIONAL – PSYCHOLOGICAL
Crying spells (Ex. “I see my daughter crying alone in her room, but she doesn’t say why.”)
Over exaggerated startle response. Does your child scare easily?
Negative Self Talk. (Ex. “Maybe I am a loser. Everyone tells me I am. I must be.”)
A child develops a sudden preoccupation with violence (Ex. Violent video games, news, movies, etc.)
Withdrawal from family and friends.
Anxiety and Phobias. NOTE: Some phobias and reported anxiety can be a way to avoid bullying. (Ex. A child claims to have a fear of dogs to avoid walking down a street where a big dog resides. In reality, the child fears the neighbor’s son who bullies him.)
The child makes statements suggesting he/she is isolated. NOTE: Bullies often try to make the victim feel isolated from the world. (Ex. “I have no friends … Nobody likes me.”)
Rapid (often unprovoked) mood shifts
Injuring self intentionally
The child does not appear genuine. (Ex. Parents report, “We felt as though Jenny was acting all the time. We would ask her a simple question, and she would respond as though she was on stage.”)
SERIOUS WARNING SIGNALS
Hopelessness and Helplessness (Ex. “What’s the use? The world is coming to an end anyway.” “Nothing I can do about my life. It is what it is.“)
Sudden interest in The After Life and supernatural.
Euphoria – often followed by a period of depression.
Giving away or promising personal belongings to others.
Expressing the desire to die. (Ex. “I want to die. Everyone would be better off without me.”)
Hesitation in self-expression. (Ex. “I want you, my family to know something, I’m just not sure when or how to tell you this.”)
NOTE: It is NEVER WRONG to discuss any of the above Signs and Symptoms with your child. Depression, anxiety, fear, and even suicidal thoughts will not disappear without discussion and will not magnify with discussion.