• Sharan Dhaliwal

Guide for Parents: Is your child getting bullied?


As your child ventures out in the “real world”, they will face various challenges. It’s difficult to protect them from every threat in the world, however, we can educate both them and ourselves to be better equipped to face and overcome potential challenges. It is not uncommon for children to face issues such as bullying, social anxiety, academic pressure, and peer pressure. Therefore, it's critical that your child has a confidante, supporter, and source of appropriate guidance in order to face challenges in a healthy way. Bullying can result in poor mental health, which can have adverse effects on your child's ability to function in their daily life and can lead to poor social, health, and academic outcomes.


What is bullying?


Bullying is when someone deliberately behaves aggressively against another individual in an effort to establish a power imbalance.


What are the different types of bullying?


Traditional bullying:

Involves aggressive behaviour that is physical, verbal, or emotional.


Example: It may include acting aggressively toward someone because of their race, religion, appearance, or abilities. It can also look like pushing, kicking, mocking, passing insulting notes, shaming, and excluding.


Sexual bullying:

Involves sexually harassing another individual


Example: Unwanted and inappropriate touching, sexualized language or pressuring others to act promiscuously.


Cyber bullying:

Attempting to intimidate, threaten, or emotionally manipulate individuals' through digital communication. Usually takes place online, via cellular devices, or on social media.


Example: Spreading inaccurate information about an individual online, publishing digital content with the victim in it without authorization, harassing or threatening the individual through online platforms.


Consequences of bullying


Education


Bullying has negative impacts on a child’s sense of belonging at school which can result in feelings of isolation. According to research, children who are bullied are almost twice as likely to skip school regularly and discontinue further education after completing secondary education. This can negatively impact their grades. Additionally, studies found that the average accomplishment score of bullied children was 2.7% lower than those of children who experienced little to no bullying.


Health


A child's mental health can be negatively impacted by bullying. According to research, sibling bullying is associated with increased emotional problems, depression, self-harm, and low self-esteem.


What should you look out for?

  • Hesitation about going to school

  • Decreased appetite

  • Crying

  • Anxiety

  • Anger

  • Signs of depression: feeling sad, staying in bed, lack of energy to do anything, decreased self-esteem, difficulty sleeping/sleeping excessively.

  • Ripped clothing

  • Bruising


How do I support my child?


Educating yourself and your child on bullying and its consequences can help your child overcome bullying and may also prevent them from participating in bullying behaviors.

  1. Be aware and observant of signs in your child that may indicate that they are being bullied or are bullying others.

  2. Make room for open communication with your child by implementing effective communication strategies.

  3. Children learn a lot by observing. Set a good example of appropriate behaviors for your child by behaving accordingly.

  4. Teach your child what they can do if they are being bullied by practicing scenarios and assertive strategies to cope with bullying. Let them know who they can approach for help if they find themselves in such situations.

  5. Educate your child on how to set and respect boundaries. Whether that be with technology or in-person. For example, teach your child to not respond to threatening emails or to report any bullying immediately.

  6. Speak with professionals to explore efficient anti-bullying strategies.

  7. Contact us to book an appointment with one of our family therapists.


Sources

Armitage R. (2021). Bullying in children: impact on child health. BMJ pediatrics open, 5(1), e000939. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjpo-2020-000939

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). How parents, teachers, and kids can take action to prevent bullying. American Psychological Association. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/prevent

Experts, K. H. B. H. (Ed.). (n.d.). Helping kids deal with bullies (for parents) - nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/bullies.html