What Do You Do If Your Child Has Had A Sudden Change In Attitude?
Parents often come to me for help dealing with sudden attitude changes in their kids. These changes can occur for many different reasons, but more often than not, it’s because they have started getting picked on by another child at school. I know, because this happened with my own daughter. We noticed a significant change in her attitude, and as with many children, my daughter refused to talk about it at first.
According to the government agency, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 47% of Canadian parents report having a child who is a victim of bullying! That’s almost half the child population. The reality is that most children, like my daughter, won’t openly talk about their bullying problem. That’s why it’s important for parents like you and me to be educated on bullying. That way we can help our kids sooner, rather than later.
The 4 Main Types of bullying
Verbal bullying is the classic form of bullying. This involves your child being targeting by the bully with mean or unkind words. Being made fun of can be very hurtful and stressful, and can have a very negative effect on your child’s self-esteem. Bullies will often target areas of sensitivity like physical appearance, ethnicity, things your child is interested in and even religion. Children who are perceived to be different from the norm are often targets of verbal bullying.
Signs your child is being verbally bullied:
- Loss of interest in school – if your child has suddenly lost interest in going to school, especially if they loved going before, then this could mean that they are dealing with a bully.
- Low self-esteem – verbal bullying has a huge affect on a child’s self-esteem. If your child has low self-esteem, then it should send up red flags.
- Depression or sadness – If your once happy child is now sad or suffering from depression then it could be bully related.
- If your child talks about it – If your child talks about how other children, or one in particular, dislikes them then this is a sign that bullying could be taking place at school.
So, What Do I Do About Verbal Bullying?
- Teach your child self-confidence – Building your child’s confidence is the main tool when dealing with verbal bullying. When your child is confident and secure in who they are, they will be better equipped to deal with the emotions that come with bullying.
- Encourage and Praise your child – As parents we need to learn to praise and encourage our children more. Parents, myself included, are guilty of pointing out things our children do wrong, but often say nothing when they do something right! If our children only hear negative from us, then the words the bully says will carry more weight.
- Teach Your Child to Speak Up – Teach your child to speak out and stop the bully in a verbally firm but safe manner. Even simple phrases like ‘back off’ can put off a bully.
Physical bullying involves the inflicting injuries or harming your child physically in some way. Children who physical bully, are usually older or stronger than their target. The bully often uses their physical strength or older age to intimidate the victim by pushing, hitting or even kicking them. Other forms of physical bullying might involve physically embarrassing the child in front of others, for example, pulling down pants, wedgies, etc.
Signs of physical bullying
- Physical injuries – when your child is being bullied, you might see some injuries like cuts and bruises. Your child may lie about how they got the cuts and bruises and claim that they fell or got into an accident.
- Complaints about pain – if your child is not sick but they keep complaining about pain, it could be from unseen injuries inflicted by a bully.
- Check the clothing – inspecting your child’s clothing might give you some clues of physical bullying. If you notice that the clothes are stained or damaged, then it might indicate that the child is being bullied.
How to deal with physical bullying
- Tell your child to be open – it is essential to teach your child to be open when dealing with physical abuse. Encourage them to tell you about the events.
- Do not blame your child – if your child feels like you are blaming them for what happened, they will stop talking about it.
- Do not confront the bully or bullies parents – it is normal to be tempted to confront the bully or the parents of the bully. Even if you feel angry refrain from confrontation.
- Seek help from authorities – physical bullying can be serious and you must use the proper channels. Talk to your child’s teacher and the principal of the school first.
Relational bullying is a little bit complex, and is more common in older children and teenagers. This type of bullying is often confused with verbal bullying because it involves the hurting the victim emotionally. However, with relational bullying, it might include insensitive jokes, spreading embarrassing rumours or even seclusion from social groups. This type of bullying is common among girls where a group of girls forms a social group at school and secludes some girls with the intent to hurt them emotionally. This type of bullying is difficult to detect, and the victims are a little bit older.
Signs of relational bullying
- Mood swings – relational bullying leads to mood swing because the child might feel hurt by what is going on.
- Withdrawal – withdrawal from peer groups, is a sign that the child is being bullied. If the child feels unaccepted in the group, then they will automatically withdraw.
- Sadness – just like any other type of bullying, relational bullying will make the victims sad and depressed.
How to deal with relational bullying
- Build a relationship – if you suspect that your child is dealing with relational bullying, it is advisable to build a relationship with them. The more positive relationships your child has outside of school, the easier it will be for them to cope.
- Have your child develop talents and hobbies – talents and hobbies are an excellent way to get away from the issues happening in school. When your child starts growing their talents and hobbies, they will have an outlet for their emotions.
With the explosive growth of different social media platforms the incidence and severity of Cyberbullying has grown to become a real problem. In cases of Cyberbullying the bully will spread embarrassing rumours about or directed to the victim through social media, text or emails. Cyberbullying is more common to teenagers and pre-teens who are obsessed with using the internet and phones.
Signs of cyberbullying
- Spending more time on the phone or computer – if your child is spending more time than usual on the computer or their phone, then they might be experiencing cyberbullying.
- Withdrawal from social groups – your child might withdraw from social groups for fear of the embarrassing things being said about them on social media.
- Sadness – cyberbullying is a type of emotional bullying, and the victims will also suffer from sadness.
How to deal with cyberbullying
- Talk about cyberbullying – you need to talk to your child about cyberbullying. When it happens, most of the children do not know how to go about it. Tell them not to respond to the bully.
- Parental controls – using parental controls is one of the best ways to protect your child from cyberbullies.
- Make a report – reporting to your child’s school will allow them to look into the situation and help prevent further incidents. In cases of threats of physical harm, involving the police can help stop the situation from escalating further.
If you notice that your child is being bullied, the best thing that you can do is to offer support. At this point, your child needs as much support as possible. Getting your child involved in activities that bolster confidence, like Martial Arts, is a great way to give your child the tools they need in order to deal with the bullying.