How will I know if my child is being bullied?

One of our Educational Pyschologists, Heidi Bezuidenhout, shares the following advice for parents who ask what signs to look out for regarding bullying:

“We need to remember that all children are different and therefore the signs (or the way they communicate that to us) may be very different.

Bullying exists in many forms: verbally, physically, emotionally and the indications that a child may be bullied varies. They may not feel comfortable to tell you what is going on. They might feel socially isolated, rejected and feel like no one will understand or believe them. Or they might not have the vocabulary to explain what is happening.

It is important that parents watch and talk to their children on a daily basis. A relationship with them is key, because this may help to intervene faster when they are being bullied.

Some of the warning signs that something is going on could be a combination of the following:

• Behaviour of the child changes: for example their eating habits. Someone who usually eats a little could start binging or not eat at all

• Frequently complaining about aches or pains.

• Unexplainable injuries or marks on their bodies

• Nightmares or changing of sleeping patterns

• Loss of interest in activities, friends or school

• Sudden loss of friends or avoiding social activities.

• Lost or damaged personal items: like books, clothing.

• Changes in mood: like crying or looking down/unhappy for no specific reason

• Anger outbursts/sudden frustration or tantrums

• Hurting themselves or talking about suicide;

When children voice/ show that they are thinking about suicide, we as adults and parents should always take it seriously. It is important to talk to your child and get to the reason why they feel like this. It will also be wise to include a healthcare professional, like a counsellor or psychologist to help with this process.”