What is Bullying:
There are multiple forms of bullying, but for the purposes of this blog, we will focus on the four types that are most likely to impact children. According to the American Psychological Association, bullying is defined as any form of aggressive behavior that purposefully and repeatedly causes injury or discomfort to another person. Bullying does not only present as physical; it can also manifest through words or subtle actions. Types of bullying include verbal, physical, relational, and cyberbullying.
Verbal bullying often entails cruel words, name-calling, threatening, or making disrespectful comments about another person.
Physical bullying often involves physical aggression, including kicking, tripping, blocking, pushing, touching in inappropriate ways, and intimidation.
Relational bullying is when someone actively engages in exclusion tactics to keep another person from joining the activity, conversation, or group. This type of bullying often occurs at the lunch table, during games or sports, or social gatherings.
Cyberbullying, slightly different from typical bullying, is defined as verbal threatening or harassment performed using some type of technology, such as a cell phone, email, social media, texting, or direct messaging. This type of bullying can and often does include one or many individuals spreading lies or rumors about someone else on various platforms, including social media. It is important to note that those who commit cyberbullying against children are sometimes adults.
Being aware of the warning signs indicating that a child is being bullied or may be at risk of being bullied is vital. For signs of verbal and relational bullying, children might become withdrawn in specific settings, such as peer activities, or in general. The child might show this by appearing to be alone more than usual. They may also exhibit more moodiness than is typical for the child. It could even impact your child’s appetite. Girls are more likely to experience relational bullying, yet that is not to say it does not impact boys. Warning signs for physical bullying are a little different. They include unexplained marks on the body, including cuts, scratches, or bruises. You might also notice damaged or missing clothing items. Symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches are also typical warning signs for kids experiencing physical bullying. Finally, cyberbullying warning signs include things like sleep disturbance, wanting to stay home from school or other activities, or withdrawing from activities or hobbies they once cherished. Another good indication of bullying is a child spending more time on social media or texting but appearing anxious afterward.
How to Help:
After reading about the various types of bullying and the warning signs for recognizing a child might be bullied, you are likely wondering how you can help. Teaching your children about respect and modeling appropriate behavior is an excellent first step in reinforcing how your child ought to treat all with kindness. This can be done by thanking fast-food workers, being kind to grocery store employees, or smiling at your barista in the morning. Also, teaching your child about self-respect will raise their motivation and confidence. Teaching your child to identify their own strengths is also a strong way to help them build confidence and an overall appreciation for themselves. Teach your child to speak up for others and ask for help for themself or peers. Don’t be afraid to take action if necessary. Keeping open and ongoing communication with school counselors, teachers, and other administrators is highly recommended. Lastly, get comfortable with setting boundaries for internet, social media, and cell phone use. Teach your child to never respond to cyberbullying; let them know to instead tell and show you so you can document it for reporting purposes. Ultimately, the most important way to help your child is to show them that you and many others love and care deeply for them.