During the school year, one of the problems we often see impacting kids is bullying. Bullying can be both physical and verbal and occur in any number of places including at school, in your neighborhood, and online. I spoke with Sheri Tesch, MS, LMFT, a therapist at Solutions Counseling, to give us some advice on bullying in school:
1. What are signs your child is being bullied?
Changes in mood, depression symptoms, unexplained cuts or bruises, damaged or missing pieces of clothing and your child not wanting to go to school or reporting headaches/stomachaches in attempts to avoid school and/or social events. Other things to pay attention to are a decline in their school performance, increased anxiety, tearing up easily, decrease in self-esteem, and frequent bad dreams.
2. What do you do if they are being bullied?
Talk with your child to find out what is happening, how long it’s been occurring and who is involved. Assist them in advocating for themselves and speaking up. If it continues, contact the school and talk with officials about how to support your child and stop the bullying. Work together with the school but clearly state your expectations. Know that due to confidentiality, what happens to the other students may not be able to be shared with you. Most schools have a bullying policy in place. Contact your child’s school for more information on their policies.
3. What do you do if your child is the bully?
If you find out your child is bullying, address it immediately. Don't pass it off to "normal kid behavior," it is not. Have your child apologize to the victim if possible and set appropriate limits and consequences for the behavior.
Remember that it is important to model kindness in your own life and home and take time to talk with your children about bullying. Teach your kids to know how to use their words to assert themselves and how to ask an adult for help when words don't help.
For more information on the topic of bullying, visit www.kidsareworthit.com.