Children face a multitude of challenges whilst growing up and bullying can be seriously distressing. It can happen anywhere – at school, on the bus, at a Saturday club or on their walk home, and it can take place in various forms. As an adult, how do you identify bullying and how do you stop it?
Types of bullying:
People have different ideas of what they consider to be bullying as opposed to boisterous play or ‘banter’. Whether verbal, physical, emotional or cyber bullying, if someone is deliberately and regularly doing something to cause another person harm or upset, it is bullying. This might be:
- name calling
- fabricating stories to humiliate
- isolating a child
- stealing their belongings or money
- posting insults/rumours online
- threats or intimidation
- physical abuse
For a child, acknowledging that they are struggling and need help is daunting but having to speak up against a bully can be truly terrifying. Keep a close eye on them and reassure frequently.
How to spot the signs:
Just like adults, children have good and bad days and mood swings to go alongside. However, when something is really worrying them, there are certain things that might hint that they are being bullied or that something is wrong. Signs of bullying are:
- being withdrawn socially; quiet and alone
- anxiety linked to school – complaining of feeling poorly
- angry or aggressive with a quick change in temperament
- struggling to sleep
- bed wetting
- not doing as well in school
- loss of confidence and blaming themselves for things
- changes in eating habits
- possessions broken or missing
Whilst these signs could highlight bullying, they could also link to other changes in their lives such as losing a family member or moving house. Think carefully and weigh up all possibilities before determining bullying could be the cause.
How to talk about bullying:
When talking to a child who is being bullied it is important that you remain calm and listen. Ask questions and allow them to tell you what has happened and how they feel without interrupting or second guessing. Find out their role in the scenario to understand the entire story. With this information, decide whether the child needs some tips on how to deal with the matter independently or whether you should intervene. Whatever you do, be open with the child and let them know it will be okay.
Educating children on bullying:
Unfortunately, bullying can happen at any stage of life. Teaching a child how to cope with these situations will ensure that they are far better prepared. Key things to remember are:
☑ Appear confident and be assertive with a bully.
☑ Stay in safe areas where there are plenty of people.
☑ If being bullied - tell a friend, tell a teacher or tell a parent/carer.
☑ Try to dismiss bullying remarks – the more impact they see it having on you, the more likely they will continue.
☑ Do not have social media accounts until it is age appropriate to do so.
☑ Report people who are being abusive online.
With an ever-changing world, children will face more and more battles. Social media is an excellent tool but one that can become a lethal weapon. Equip yourself with knowledge on cyber bullying and other forms to best support a child, allowing them a happy childhood.
Visit https://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/ for more information.