Bullying in schools has moved beyond a simple problem kids deal with. With school shootings happening on average every week, it’s critical for parents to spot the signs your kid is being bullied.
For many parents, bullying brings up memories of the school playground. Maybe you (or your friends) were bullied in the classroom or on the school bus. However today, social media has created a whole new realm for bullying, turning the problem into a 24/7 365 nightmare for kids to be harassed.
If you’re concerned your child is being bullied at school, here’s 5 warning signs to look out for.
5 Signs Your Kid is being bullied
1. Difficulty Sleeping
Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or tiredness in the mornings can be a sign of bullying or depression. Your child may be too anxious to fall or stay asleep; they may be crying themself to sleep or having nightmares. In younger children, wetting the bed is another sign of fear or anxiety in a child – which could be stemming from bullying.
2. Unexplained Injuries
Does your child come home from school with bruises, scrapes, cuts, or torn clothes? When you ask your child about the injury or ruined clothing, do they appear nervous or avoid answering your questions? These could simply be normal injuries as a result of play, or a sign of playground bullying.
Asking open-ended questions such as, “What happened to recess today?“ or “Did anything happen today that you didn’t like?“ can be an effective way to get your child to open up.
3. Avoids Social Situations
If you notice your child has recently lost some friends or seems reluctant to spend time with them, this may be a sign of bullying. You may also notice your child is afraid to ride the bus or tries to avoid school entirely by skipping class or feigning an illness. They may go to school nurse with a mystery illness to get you to pick them up early from school. Or maybe they suddenly being to complain of hating school for no apparent reason.
If you’re beginning to notice a pattern, try talking to them about it.
“I’m starting to notice you’re feeling sick a lot lately. Is everything OK at school?“
4. Change in eating habits
If you notice your child’s eating habits are changing, such as skipping meals or binge eating, this is likely a sign something is wrong (even if it’s not bullying). If your child comes home from school very hungry, it could be because they didn’t eat lunch. Maybe they are too nervous during lunchtime to eat, getting her lunch or lunch money stolen, or possibly avoiding the cafeteria all together because of bullying or harassment.
5. Changes in social media habits
When a child is being bullied online, they may start spending too much time on their devices or avoiding them entirely. It’s a good idea to monitor their social media sites by friending or following, and if you suspect bullying, check their phone for harassing messages. You may also want to look into parental controls and monitoring apps for your child’s phone and social media accounts.
If you believe your child is being bullied at school, contact their teacher, the school principal or the school counselor or psychologist. You can also visit stop bullying.gov for more resources and help. If you or your child need professional help to deal with the bullying situation, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help you navigate the murky waters.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.