“Stop bullying my kid!” are words I never thought I would say. Especially since three (out of four) of my children are only elementary school age. But I have. And with saying those words, I experienced a great sense of worry for my children’s safety.
The first time I encountered bullying was three years ago, when a nine year old neighbor’s son pushed and teased my five year old son. My husband said this is normal boy stuff. Nothing about it seemed normal to me. But I let it slide until he pushed my daughter who was also five. I spoke with him directly, sharing what he did was wrong and communicating that he was not allowed to play with my kids. But what I didn’t do was speak to his parents. Something I should have done.
Since then, I’ve faced two additional bullying situations, both involving my older son. Although I’m still not sure the second was a bullying situation that needed intervention.
Let me explain. There was an incident at my son’s school where two so called popular boys were teasing my son, saying things like you stink at football. What kid doesn’t say stuff like that, right? Then they ignored him on the playground. Again, my husband said this is normal boy stuff. Honestly, this did seem like normal kid stuff. But truthfully, these kid’s actions fall under bullying. And of course, my overly protective mind started to wonder if this was more than just normal kid stuff. I fought internally with how to go about addressing the issue without embarrassing my son and causing more problems between him and those kids. I contacted two of my son’s teachers (without my son knowing), asking them if they’d keep an eye out during recess. And they did more than just that. They also addressed the topic of bullying in their class. Not even a week later, my son mentioned that those two boys were being cool to him. I felt relief. But I also know this is still a topic that can resurface in our home.
Bullying is an issue and should be a concern for every parent. However, from personal experience, not every kid teasing moment should be labeled as a bullying situation where parent intervention is required. Kids will be teased and won’t be accepted in every group. Below are warning signs of a bully and being bullied.
Warning signs of being bullied:
- Has unexplained physical injuries like cuts and bruises
- Has few, if any friends
- Seems afraid of going to school or participating in organized activities
- Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
- Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
- Complains of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
- Has trouble sleeping or has bad dreams
- Suffers from low self-esteem
Warning signs of a bully:
- Refuses to include certain kids in play
- Continues inappropriate behavior even though he/she was asked to stop
- Overly concerned with being and staying popular
- Non-accepting of kids who are different
- Frequently teases or taunts other children
- Constantly plays extremely aggressive videogames
- Hurts animals
- Verbally rude and aggressive
Also, I’d like to leave you with two thoughts.
- What do you believe is a normal kid experience?
- What can you do better to raise your children to appreciate the differences in each and every one of us?
For additional information please visit:
Care.com – Signs that Your Child is a Bully or Being Bullied
Greatschools.com – The Bully and The Bystander
Education.com – Warning Signs that a Child is Being Bullied