How would you know if your child is the target of bullying? Most of the time your child will not announce it to you, out of fear of embarrassment, belief that they can or must take of the situation or out of fear of retaliation. Parents and teachers need to be aware of changes in the attitude or conduct of a child so we can take action.
If we see a pattern develop with a child of being more anxious, especially about particular situations, there may be something happening that is not comfortable for them. If they become anxious about going to school, scouts, a sport activity or any place where there are others around – they may be experiencing some aggression. Please remember it need not be from just other young people. There may be an adult that makes them uncomfortable. I have seen this happen with adults (teachers / coaches) where a child was being treated with sarcasm that caused anxiety and academic issues.
Other ways of telling a child may be a target of aggression, include depression, sadness, or safety concerns. Anytime there is a change in the personality, just be aware and take extra time with your child to talk. What should you ask? How do you approach this conversation?
Most of the time asking if they are getting picked on in school is not going to get a response that helps you understand what is happening. Neither is asking how it is going in school today. You most likely will get the “fine” answer or the “good” comment. Our conversation must be ongoing, general giving them the opportunity to feel safe telling us / without telling us. Here is what I mean.
Children are not going to be in a rush to embarrass themselves by telling us that they are having relationship issues in school. On a daily basis – know your child and who their friends are. Do not interrogate, but ask questions that you can put the pieces together. If you know that a child typically plays with Sally and then all of a sudden Sally is no longer in the picture – then that is a warning sign that there may be some relationship issues.
Without becoming Jack Webb (do you remember that show?) we can learn what is on their mind. What to do at that point is the subject of a seminar I do for parents titled “What to do if your child is being bullied?” This includes how to deal with your child, the school system (public or private) and with the parents of the aggressor.
If you have a specific issue I am available as an advocate or consultant in this subject.