Every parent wants to protect their child, whether that’s from bad dreams, injuries while playing, or worst of all – bullying. Your child might not always be able to tell you that they are being bullied and there are numerous reasons for that. It could be embarrassment, a fear of ‘telling’ on a classmate, or maybe just a desire to handle it on their own. Bullying can also sometimes be subtle and can affect your child’s mental health without them realising that is is in fact a form of bullying that they are going through. That’s why as a parent, it’s important to watch out for the signs that might indicate that something else is going on. Our resident therapist, Shahrukh Malik, gave us her two cents on the matter and emphasised on how ‘if the right intervention and treatment is not taken, the trauma of bullying in one’s childhood and adolescence can carry forward into adulthood.’ Scroll down to read the 5 signs she think one should be wary of:
1. If Your Child Has Any Bruises Or Injuries After School
Now this shouldn’t immediately get you worried. Sometimes there is a perfectly good explanation for a bruise. After all, children play all sorts of games and sports that could lead to injuries if they aren’t careful. But if you feel like something is odd about a certain injury or with your child’s explanation for it, it might be worth investigating. Pay attention to the tone of your child’s voice while talking about it, as well as his/her facial expressions. These often can give one away even if the story is completely plausible. Make sure your child is aware that it’s okay to tell you the truth and that you can decide how best to handle it together. Often children think we will spiral into action without taking their consent for it, but assure your child that you will involve them in your decision, even if that is to take it up with the school or the bully’s parents.
2. If Their Attitude Towards Going To School Changes
Does your child suddenly seem reluctant at the thought of going to school? Shahrukh says that signs of anxiety such as headaches or stomach aches could be indicators that there is an underlying problem. Kids don’t often want to go to school, but if there is sudden change in your child’s behaviour towards school, something relating to it might be the cause of it.
3. If Their Grades Are Affected
Like most things that affect mental health, bullying can cause a dip in your child’s motivation to study. Sudden fluctuations in their grades, a reluctance to participate in group projects and a general loss of interest in school work are all signs to watch out for. Poor performance however can also be because of trouble grasping a certain topic or subject, so make sure you have an open conversation with your child regarding what really is the problem.
4. A Change In Their Group Of Friends
Shahrukh points out that a change in friends could be indicative of issues with a certain person or a group of friends. If your child is suddenly not hanging out with people that he/she used to, it could be because they had a falling out. An unwillingness to go to social gatherings such as birthdays or other events might also mean that your child is not comfortable around certain people. Remember to approach the topic with sensitivity. Instead of outright asking your child if they are being bullied, you might want to ask questions like “Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?” Even if they aren’t ready to have a question about it, their reaction will help you get a better understanding of the issue at hand.
5. If They Are Emotionally Distant
As children start inching towards their teenage years, they can tend to shut themselves off a little. However, sudden changes in their behaviour such as coming home upset and wanting to go straight to their rooms is usually a sign of something happening at school, says Shahrukh. They might also seem a little dazed, quiet or sad. Try to give your child space in such situations if that’s what they need, while still doing your job as a parent by protecting them.