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How to help your child cope with bullying in school

Bullying can be frightening, and physically and emotionally damaging for children. It is all too common among school children. Even preschoolers can experience it. Here are some tips on how to spot if your child is being bullied and what you can do about it.

What is bullying?

On the surface, it’s like teasing. Most of us know how that feels. But sometimes kids tease other kids over and over again. Or they might tease because they really want to hurt somebody’s feelings, or make sure that somebody is left out of games or activities. This is when teasing becomes bullying.

Other examples of bullying are:

  • saying mean things or calling people names
  • leaving people out of activities or spreading nasty stories about them
  • hitting and pushing people or taking their things.

Girls tend to bully in indirect ways that can be hard to spot. Boys tend to be more physical.

When it comes to bullying behaviour, your child might be the one affected. Or your child might be the one doing the bullying. Read our article on what to do if your child is bullying others.

Children should never be left to sort out bullying on their own. They can be seriously hurt by it. It is important for grown-ups to stop bullying before it starts happening over and over again, or damages a child’s confidence.

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How to spot signs of bullying

There is no single way to tell if a child is being bullied. The way a child reacts will depend on how bad the bullying is, as well as the child’s personality. Apart from obvious physical signs of bullying, the things to look for are changes in your child’s social or emotional behaviour.

Things to look out for include:

  • physical signs such as bruises, cuts and scratches, torn clothes, poor sleeping, bedwetting, and frequent requests for money
  • changes related to school or preschool, such as not wanting to go, staying close to teachers during breaks, having difficulty asking or answering questions in class, not taking part in activities, sitting alone, and schoolwork and homework deteriorating suddenly
  • emotional clues such as anxiety, nervousness, distress, unhappiness, depression or tears, withdrawal, secretiveness, sudden changes in behaviour, being quick to anger, and unhappiness at the end of weekends and holidays
  • other signs such as your child talking about being teased, taunted, ridiculed, degraded, threatened, dominated, made fun of, or laughed at. Your child might be excluded at lunch and recess, lose contact with classmates after school, or be chosen last for teams and games.

Talking to your child about bullying

One in five children keeps bullying a secret from people around them, so it can be hard to know for sure if your child is being bullied. Try some of the following conversation starters if you suspect that your child is being bullied.

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Written by PH

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