Being bullied by other kids at school or in their spare time can be very tough to deal with–for both kids and parents involved. We take a look at reasons and signs of bullying, as well as what you can do as a parent.
Why does it happen?
Bullying occurs when one or more children use aggressive behaviour to manipulate, upset or harm another child. This is usually because the victim is vulnerable in some way due to physical, mental or social features.
Children with disabilities can sometimes stand out, so you might find your child becoming a victim of bullying. It’s undisputed that children with disabilities are likely to experience bullying in some way, just like many other kids are bullied. With that in mind, you should take the time to look for signs that your boy or girl is having a difficult time outside your home.
Signs that your child is being bullied
- Your child is communicating that he or she doesn’t want to go to school, or to other activities during spare time.
- Different types of symptoms occur that may not correlate with the disability, e.g. headaches or stomach aches.
- Unexplanatory irritability and anxiousness, as well as having trouble sleeping.
- Symptoms of self-harm, which should of course be dealt with immediately.
In some cases, it might not be possible to discover that your child is a victim of bullying. He/she could be shy or ashamed, or unable to communicate what’s going on. It might even be that your child is not aware that he or she is being bullied.
What can you do?
Make sure you stay in touch with teachers, assistants, other parents and activity leaders to assess how your child is doing among his or her friends. Check in regularly so you know that you’re staying on top of things. You should also use the opportunity to accompany your child to see what’s going on at school and in their spare time.
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As a parent, you must communicate to your child that being bullied, or bullying others, is unacceptable. Stealing lunches, calling names and violence in any form, is not OK. Make sure your kid understands that it’s important to communicate any kind of bullying to teachers, assistants, and of course to you as the parent. Trying to instill the right attitude here is important, as your child might be bullying other kids as well.
If you suspect that your child’s being bullied, or is participating in bullying in any way, you can get in touch with the teacher at school or the leader of any spare time activities, to see if there are any precautions or measures you can take. Some schools have educational programs on bullying–not only for kids, but for parents, teachers, and therapists alike.
Last but not least, remember that openness and creating acceptance for disabilities is a big part of the picture. If other children understand what disabilities are in general, and what it entails, chances are they’ll be less likely to resort to bullying.
You can also bring this up with your school and other parents, and ask them to inform and educate classmates and other pupils on the situation. Professionals with in depth knowledge on your child’s disability can be helpful when collecting educational information and material on your child’s disability and situation.
At the end of the day, it’s about creating awareness, and show that even though your child might be different in some ways, he or she is just like any kid with the need to learn, play and laugh.