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Signs of Bullying Parents Should Know

October 28, 2021

Kids bullying other kids has been happening for all of history. You may have experienced it when you were a child. Now that children are back in school, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of bullying. There are many different forms of bullying that you should be mindful of as a parent or teacher. If you are aware of the signs, you can help those being bullied and stop any further bullying from occurring. 

Ways of bullying often change. Parents need to stay ahead of what’s going on with their children at school. It’s crucial to know if your child is being bullied and teach your children to identify it and empower them to stop it.

There are typically four types of bullying that occur:

  • Verbal Bullying — Ongoing name-calling, threatening, disrespectful comments about a child’s attributes (physical appearance, sexual orientation, religion, personality, disability). An example is a child saying, “You’re ugly and stupid.”
  • Physical Bullying — Pushing, punching, kicking, tripping, or touching in inappropriate or unwanted ways. Any physical trauma can be considered physical bullying. An example is a child shoving another child into a wall.
  • Social/Relational Bullying — Excluding a child from events or groups, whether a sports team, lunch table, or another social event. 
  • Cyber Bullying — Using the internet and social media to taunt and make negative comments towards others. This is an example of private bullying because only one person needs to be behind the online words. An example of cyberbullying is using email to send mean messages to another child.
Image showing a young girl reading a book in a classroom with text overlay indicating the four types of bullying

Once you know the types of bullying and the signs to watch out for, you can better understand how to help your children and their friends.

5 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied

There are many common signs that your child is being bullied. Some warning signs may be easier to spot than others because not all are physical. Bullying causes just as much damage psychologically as it can physically. 

If you notice any of the following signs, your child might be experiencing bullying at school, and you should address it.

  • A Reluctance To Go To School
  • Frequent Ailments
  • Change or Loss in Friends
  • Emotional Outbursts and Troubled Sleep
  • Physical Marks
Image showing a young girl holding a teddy bear tightly with text overlay that provides that a child may be experiencing bullying at school

A Reluctance To Go To School

It’s easy to understand why someone would want to avoid a place where they feel uncomfortable or victimized. So, for children experiencing bullying, a reluctance to go to school is expected because of the extreme anxiety it causes.

When children are being bullied, it’s likely that they won’t want to go to school and will make excuses to avoid going there. Their reluctance to go to school can signify them trying to escape the bullying they are experiencing in the classroom, lunchroom, or at other school events. It is also possible that they may be experiencing cyberbullying and don’t want to go to school and face their aggressor. 

Going to school and facing bullies can make children feel terrible, physically and emotionally. Look out for any of these signs in younger students:

  • Frequent calls from the nurse or school for early pick-up
  • Child coming up with excuses to stay home
  • Child getting extremely upset about having to go to school
  • Child feeling anxiety around school or other social events
  • Child frequently complaining about aches and pains

In older students, you should still look out for the same signs. However, when children are older, there are some new signs to look out for. These include:

  • Missing classes
  • Skipping school, particularly Mondays. Mondays can be especially tough for children being bullied because the weekend gave them a break from the bullying, and they are hesitant to go back to school after that. 

The more severe or more significant instances of these symptoms can give you insight into what your children are experiencing. For example, if your child is trying to avoid school more often, the bullying they could be experiencing may be happening more often. If your child displays any level of reluctance to go to school, it’s essential to reach out to them, ask them questions, and reach out to their teachers to see if they have noticed anything or can help.

Frequent Ailments

Much like how bullied children avoid going to school, they might frequently experience physical ailments. When people are under stress, it’s common to suffer from physical ailments like headaches and stomachaches. The symptoms are most likely caused by anxiety from the bullying they’re enduring. 

Close up image of a child holding their stomach to indicate pain with text overlay explaining that it is common for people to feel physical pain when under stress

Not every ailment your child may be suffering is due to bullying. The easiest way to ensure there isn’t a physical issue with your child is to have them checked by their pediatrician. If their doctor rules out any medical problems, then bullying may be the cause. 

Your child could also be faking ailments to get out of attending school or other social functions. For example, they may complain of headaches or stomachaches to avoid leaving your home and potentially seeing those who bully them. If you notice this happening and your pediatrician cannot diagnose any issues, you should try talking with your child about what they might be experiencing. Asking open-ended questions like, “I noticed you’re feeling very sick lately, do you want to talk about it?” will allow them to have control over the conversation and create an open dialogue.

Change or Loss in Friends

Bullying can affect all parts of your child’s life. It can cause physical effects like the headaches and stomachaches discussed above, as well as social issues. You may notice changes in your child’s friend groups or even that they no longer seem to have any friends to spend time with at all. Isolation, self-inflicted or not, is common when children are being bullied.

If your child is reluctant to hang out with their friends, it can signify that bullying is taking place within their friend group. The change can happen swiftly, as one incident is all that is necessary in some cases. You may notice that your child tries to avoid one particular friend. That can be a sign of a rift between the friends, if not something more.

If your child seems to have lost contact with their friends or no longer wants to spend time with them, it can also signify that they’re being bullied. You may also notice that your child is no longer invited to social events like birthday parties. Again, that can be an isolation tactic by the bully and their friends.

Emotional Outbursts & Troubled Sleep

Emotional outbursts and trouble sleeping are common signs of being bullied. In addition, bullied children often experience many psychological effects from the abuse inflicted upon them. For example, if a child is nervous or anxious about school or other social activities, they may display emotional outbursts around conversations about those activities.

Emotional Outbursts

Of course, you may notice emotional changes in your children as they grow up. However, some that occur quickly and seem entirely out of character may be cause for concern. 

Image portraying a conversation between a mother and her young daughter while sitting outside with text overlay referring to emotional outbursts

You may notice that your child cries more, becomes agitated more quickly, or becomes withdrawn. Your child may have emotional outbursts because they are unable to process what is happening to them. You may say something to them that usually wouldn’t produce such a strong response, but their reaction is heightened because of the pressure they are under and the anxiety they feel. It’s best to practice patience with your child and ask what you can do to help them.

Troubled Sleep

Your child may experience troubled sleep because of the anxiety they’re feeling. For example, if they’re experiencing bullying at school, they’re most likely worried about what will happen at school the next day or week. The worry can make them have difficultly falling asleep or cause tossing and turning during the night. Be on the lookout for your child being exhausted when they wake up in the morning or being unable to focus or maintain proper hygiene. Your child’s academic standing and self-esteem may also lower, and they could begin abusing drugs or alcohol.

Physical Marks

One way bullies express their dominance over your child is through physical abuse. Being beat up, pushed, kicked, or more can cause physical marks to appear on your children. Physical marks like scrapes or bruises can be signs of playground bullying. You may also notice that your children flinch when you go to touch them for hugs or kisses. The flinching may be a sign that they are experiencing physical abuse at the hands of bullies.

Not all of the physical marks you may notice will be on your child’s skin. You may see that your child comes home with torn, ruined, or stolen clothes or belongings. Bullies will do anything they can to demean, terrorize and humiliate their victims, including damaging their belongings. 

Signs of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a newer phenomenon, and it has become a significant concern for parents and teachers. Bullying used to be limited to physical interactions. Today, with almost every school-age child having access to cell phones and the internet, cyberbullying has become a common way for bullies to inflict their damage on others. However, the real danger with cyberbullying is that bullies can do it behind closed doors.  

Close up image of a child using a mobile device with text overlay explaining what the real danger of cyberbullying is

Cyberbullying is spreading mean words, lies, false rumors, or any other hurtful words through an online medium. The mediums can include text messages, social media posts, emails, YouTube videos and more. Anything harmful that is said over a digital medium can be considered cyberbullying. Even if a hurtful message isn’t directly addressed to your child, they can experience adverse effects from the hostile environment those words create.

Spotting the signs of cyberbullying can be more challenging than in-person bullying. You won’t be able to see bruises or other physical effects like other types of bullying. The bullying is typically done behind closed doors or through a device that only your child normally has access to. 

It is typical for children experiencing cyberbullying to act one of two ways:

  • Become obsessed with being online
  • Avoiding being online

Children may become obsessed with being online, whether it be on their tablet, phone, computer, video game system, or any other system that allows them to go online, if they are experiencing cyberbullying because it’s their only social outlet. While it’s painful, they may feel that they have no other choice but to use the internet to make connections with others. Also, take note if your child is spending more time than usual online and if they seem sad, withdrawn, or anxious after. That behavior can be a sure sign of cyberbullying.

On the other hand, children may start avoiding any form of social media, video games, or other similar mediums. The messages they see online might be too much for them to handle, and they may want to create a distance from them. 

Is Your Child the Bully?

There are many types of bullies, and no parent wants to think that their child would be a bully. But there are signs to look out for that might indicate your child is a bully to others. Just because your child is a bully doesn’t mean that you are a bad parent. It’s essential to identify if your child is bullying others because even though they might outgrow bullying, the behavior can transition into a habit of abusing others.

The most common types of bullies include:

  • Bully Victims — The most common type of bully. Bully Victims are victims of bullying who have become bullies themselves. Turning into bullies allows them to have control and gain power in their lives after others take them away. Bully Victims are often a creation of a domestic abuse household.
  • Popular Bullies — Popular bullies are the type of bully most often portrayed in movies and television shows as the popular kids who abuse their power and bully others. These bullies use their popularity to gain followers and control over other students.
  • Relational Bullies — A common type of relational bully would be a “mean girl.” These bullies use their relationships to gain power and bully others. They typically utilize name-calling, ostracizing, and exclusion as their main power trips.
  • Serial Bullies — Serial bullies appear charismatic and charming to authority figures but use emotional abuse behind closed doors to bully their victims. They are very good at manipulating others and tricking them into thinking they aren’t as mean as they are.
  • Group Bullies — Group bullies act in a group to attack other students. Cliques are a great example of group bullies. They behave worse in their friend group than if alone, even if they are interacting individually with their typical victim. 
  • Indifferent Bullies — Indifferent bullies often act indifferent, detached, and lack most remorse for anything they do. They enjoy watching others suffer. That is their main reason for bullying others. They aren’t as common as other types of bullies, but they can be the most dangerous type of bully because of their lack of remorse.
Image of children boarding a yellow school bus with text overlay listing the types of bullies

There are some telltale signs that your child is a bully at school, online, or in other settings. These signs include:

  • Lack of empathy — Bullies find it hard to empathize with others and understand the pain they’re causing.
  • Have been bullied before — Bullying victims are more likely to become bullies.
  • Acts overly arrogant or proud — Displaying overconfidence can be a sign of power for bullies. 
  • Strong desire to be in control — Bullies may lack power in their home lives, so they may aim to gain control by bullying those weaker than them.

What to Do

There are steps you can take if your child is experiencing bullying. You can help empower them to stop their bully and instruct them to reach out for help. 

Image taken from the bottom of a circle of young children holding each other, smiling and looking down with text overlay prompting parent to empower their children

How To Help Your Child If They Are Being Bullied:

  • Tell that them that it is okay to tell you if someone is bullying them
  • Document what you can about what bullying has happened to your child, including dates and offenses
  • Contact your child’s school and inform them of the situation
  • Ask your child how you can work together to stop the bullying from occurring
  • Encourage your child to make “deals” with their friends to keep each other accountable. For example, if one of the friends is being bullied, the other will stick up for them and vice versa.
  • Encourage them to stand up for others who are being bullied. If bullies see that their victims are not being beaten down as expected, they will be less likely to strike again.

How To Stop Your Child From Being or Becoming A Bully:

  • Provide them with a safe home situation, if possible — Some, but not all, bullies are raised in a tumultuous household and endure abuse at home. If you are able to provide your child with a safe and stable home, the chances of them bullying other students decreases.
  • Take bullying seriously — Don’t joke about children bullying others. Children learn behavior from their parents.
  • Teach your children to treat others with respect and encourage good behavior — They will be less likely to bully their peers if they are taught to treat them with respect. 
  • Allow them to express their feelings — Children who cannot express their true feelings often become bullies. By teaching your child to share their feelings and communicate to you how they feel about certain situations, you can discourage them from taking their emotions out on others.
  • Enroll your child in therapy — If your child is already displaying bullying behaviors, enrolling them in therapy may help. Their therapist can get to the root of any issues and provide a safe space for your child to express themselves.

Tips To Teach Your Child To Help Others Being Bullied

Your child will likely witness others being bullied in school. By teaching them some easy tips, they can feel empowered to stand up to the bullies and help their peers.

  • Contact a teacher or other older professional — Bullying often occurs outside of the authority’s view. Informing authority figures can allow them to intervene before any bullying progresses further.
  • Tell your child to support those being bullied — Sometimes, the life of someone being bullied can be transformed by the kindness of one person. Your child can be that person.
Image showing young children sitting next to each other on a slide with text overlay encouraging kindness

Contact Haymarket Children’s Academy in Gainesville, VA 

At the accredited Haymarket Children’s Academy, we make it our main priority to keep your child safe and happy while they’re at school. We also strive to foster their learning and educational growth. Therefore, we offer small class sizes that allow our teachers to learn your child’s behavior and notice changes. In addition, the small class sizes enable our teachers to keep in contact with their students’ parents.

We provide high-quality care and education at our daycare, preschool, and private kindergarten. Your child’s early years are incredibly formative, and we want to help you and them to grow and prosper as best as we can. Your child will get to form a close connection to their teacher, enjoy a comprehensive care plan, and embrace the joy of learning. 

Your child will thrive with play-based learning and Haymarket Children’s Academy’s holistic learning philosophy. In addition, our unique campus will wow you with all of the different amenities we offer, like freshly made meals and numerous play areas that will ignite creativity and learning in your children.

Contact Haymarket Children’s Academy today to learn more or register your child online for our daycare, preschool, or private kindergarten.

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