Sending kids off to school is an exciting time, a chance for kids to mingle with peers and gain independence. As 1/5th of students report being bullied at school, sending kids to the classroom can also be a worrisome event.
While disagreements with other students are normal, bullying crosses the line and can be extremely damaging for kids. Many parents who contact the school with bullying concerns do not get the help they need. Here’s what you can do about bullying in school.
Prepare Kids for Bullying
If possible, address bullying before it happens. This will help your child deal with potential bullying and help steer them away from acting like a bully themselves. First and foremost, talk about what bullying may look like in their environment. While bullying may look differently in a first grader vs an eighth-grader, it can be damaging at any age.
Discuss with your child how they can deal with bullying at the moment. Responses to bullies should be direct yet calm. The comeback should not try to tear down or aggravate the bully but brush off their behavior without showing signs of upset. Role-play scenarios (as a victim and bystander) and focus on strong body language. Establish an open line of communication by discussing the school day regularly.
Signs Your Child is Being Bullied
Signs of bullying may overlap with other concerns in children, but it’s important to be aware of them and know that bullying may contribute to them. Common signs bullied children display are:
- Physical complaints with no clear cause
- Fear of or not wanting to attend school
- Avoiding certain classes
- Refusing to use the changing room or bathroom at school
- Excessive worrying/ fears
- Unexplained bruises or marks
How to Handle Bullying
As painful and upsetting as it can be to deal with bullying, it’s imperative you keep your calm. When reporting bullying to the school, go in with your child to talk to the school. Keep records of bullying instances, noting the date, time, and details. Follow up with the school to discuss what actions are being taken. If you are struggling to control the bullying this way, you may need to reach out to the other child’s parent, but focus on staying calm and non-confrontational. Throughout the process, be there for your child. Remind them it’s not their fault and you are there to help. If necessary, seek outside resources like a therapist to help your child.