Many parents don’t know that their child is being bullied until it’s too late. Kids don’t want to tattle tale, they feel ashamed, they feel afraid of what the bully might do to them if they tell—there are numerous reasons your child may not be speaking up if he’s being bullied. That means it’s your job to keep an eye and ear out for your child.
I’m not telling you to be overprotective or obsessive, just be aware. You’re not at school with him every day, but trust me, if your kid is being bullied at school, or elsewhere, he will bring signs home with him.
Here are five signs that could indicate your child is being bullied:
1. Unwillingness to go to school
If your child typically enjoys school and in the recent weeks or months has been resistant to go, it could be because he’s being bullied by someone in his class or someone he knows. Instead of being frustrated with your child’s reluctance to go, sit down and ask him why he doesn’t like school anymore. Be patient, as he or she might be nervous to tell you at first.
2. Change in demeanor
Has your child’s countenance changed? Did she used to be happy and easy-going and is now moody and low? This could be hormonal if you have a teen or pre-teen, but this could also be a sign that something or someone has hurt your child. You are the one who knows your child best. Watch out for changes in her demeanor.
3. Change in sleep patterns
Studies show that 36 percent of children with sleep problems are victims of bullying. Children who are being bullied may experience nightmares or parasomnia. Additionally, kids who are being bullied often experience depression, which can lead to difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
4. Change in grades
With an unwillingness to go to school, a child’s grades could suffer. They may grow indifferent to their schoolwork as school becomes a place associated with fear and anxiety rather than fun and learning. If your child’s grades plummet significantly, something bigger could be at play in your child’s life.
5. Shift in friends
Your child may start shying away from an old group of friends who are now friends with the bullies. Watch for changes in who your child is hanging out with. It could indicate who he is avoiding.
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness month, so I’m spending some time talking to parents about what they can do about bullying. To learn more about bullying prevention and what to do if your child is being bullied, visit StopBullying.gov. If a crime or immediate risk is involved, call 911. If your child is feeling hopeless or thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).