Whether the child is the victim of bullying or the one doing the bullying the effects can be serious and long-lasting not only on their mental health but how they live in the world and relate to other people..... Let’s talk about bullying facts for kids.
What kids say about bullying
What is bullying?
Bullying has no barriers, it can be experienced & perpetrated by all ages, sexes and demographics. Although it has no standard definition it usually is described as the repeated behaviour towards a certain individual which is meant to cause a person either mental, emotional or physical distress.
The most common reasons for bullying revolve around issues of race, gender, sexuality and appearance but can be done for any reason.
In a child’s world bullying usually manifests in the following ways
Research show’s bullying has a massive effect on a child’s mental health. Statistics suggest that if you’re bullied in your younger years you’re over twice as likely to seek some sort of mental health service in your adult year’s (official figures click here). What’s even more worrying is the link between bullying and suicide or suicidal thoughts. If you’d like to know more click here.
Even though these issues can be so complicated what isn’t complicated or unclear is the effect of bullying on people. I can be severe, long-lasting and traumatising to the child.
Why do kids bully?
Understanding why kids bully can be very difficult. If a child is demonstrating that sort of behaviour it’s normally what they have learnt off other people. Whether that is from people at home, what they see in the media or from the people they hang around with.
What seems to be a common factor though is that a child doesn’t understand or accept the consequences of how their actions can affect others. At that early age, they don’t seem to be able to understand the empathy of what the other person is going through because of their actions.
When kids have been asked directly why they bully others the normal responses are things like:
I’m bullied at home
Because my friends do
I’m jealous of the other person
It stops me getting bullied
Notice the signs of bullying
The signs of bullying can be very hard to spot as a child behaviour can be unpredictable at the best of times but there are behaviours that seem to be more present in children that are getting bullied. These include
Spending more time on their own
Problems with sleeping
Anxious about going to school
Doing less well academically
Behaving more erratic or aggressive at home
Changes in eating habits
Dealing with bullies - How do you teach a child not to bully?
The first port of call is to let your child know that their behaviour and bullying is unacceptable and can have very serious consequences. It’s important that this message is delivered in a way that is helpful and understanding though. Bullying a child to try and make them stop bullying others will only lead to the kid feeling confused and victimised.
Here are some techniques that can be applied that may help change your child’s behaviour.
A consistent and on-going conversation with the child about acceptance and understanding of others and other peoples differences.
A look into the child’s social life and what sort of circle they are being surrounded by. Is it having a negative effect on their behaviour?
Encourage and reward your child for showing good behaviour.
Making sure your habits match the habits you are trying to teach the child. Practice what you preach.
There is no shame in asking for help. If it is getting too much seek professional advice from either the school services or local health authorities.
Parent helping kids - How to help the child if they are being bullied
As a parent it must be heartbreaking to find out your child is suffering at the hands of others and the first reaction may be to come out fighting. Whether that’s the right response or not is up to you as the parent but from a psychological position, there are certain tricks you can use to limit the emotional & mental damage that the bullying may be having.
The first without a doubt is creating and sustaining an atmosphere where the child feels comfortable enough to be able to come to you to talk about their feelings and what’s happening. Make sure their not afraid to come to you when something is wrong.
Encourage behaviours and activities that is away from the bullying environment such as sporting activities or social events
Reward positive behaviour and progress. If they start to react in a more healthier way to their situation, point it out and reward them.
If there is a window of communication contact the bullies parents to try work in cooperation with each other.
Teach healthy coping mechanisms so they can deal with the situation better and be less affected by the bullying.
I have no children as yet so I can only imagine what it’s like to have your child being bullied. It must be heartbreaking but I know what it’s like to be bullied and the effect that it causes.
I was bullied all through secondary school where suicidal thoughts were often a recurring thought process of mine. When any issue like this was brought up I would either shrug it off or keep whoever at arms length. Inside though I was crying out for help, I just didn't know how to talk to people that's why it's so important that create spaces for our kids so they feel secure enough to be able to talk about their issues to the ones that care.
I think it would be really helpful if we all knew a little more about bullying so I've included a few really good websites below for you to have a read over.
Why don't we all do our part and share the hell out of this post and lets help educate people. You never know who it might help 😉