Recognize the signs and bullying and teach your kids how to respond.
Kids often keep things to themselves, and they might be afraid to tell you they are being picked on. Here are a few signs to look for:
- Unexplained cuts and bruises, or ripped clothing.
- Changes in mood, anxiety, tearfulness, few friends.
- Avoids going to school or extracurricular activities.
- Trouble sleeping, loss of appetite.
- Frequent complaints of illness. If you discover your child is being bullied, find out as much as you can from them, and also talk with adults who interact with them (teachers, counselors, coaches, etc.). Keep in contact with their school to monitor the situation. “Bullying should be addressed head-on and in an assertive manner, because someone could get hurt,” said Dr. Alex Mabe, a clinical psychologist with the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
Dealing with Bullies: Help your child practice different ways to respond to bullies. Here are a few options to try:
- If a bully calls you out or picks on your differences, don’t cry or show fear.
- If a bully tries to fight with you, calmly and loudly (so others hear) tell them to leave you alone, and walk away.
- Use humor. For example, if a bully makes fun of your hair, laugh and say, “I must be having a bad hair day.”
- Stay in the company of other people, as the bully will be less likely to harass you if you’re not alone.
- Tell your parents and/or another trusted adult right away if you are being bullied.
Every situation is different, and your child’s response should vary with the situation. The more prepared your child is to deal with a bully, the more successful the outcome.
Is Your Child Being Bullied?
The Children’s Hospital of Georgia has one of the area’s largest child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology programs, with specialists who can help your child with the anxiety and depression that can accompany bullying. For an appointment, call 706-721-9331.