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10 ways to tell if your child is being bullied at school

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : March 20, 2015 5:57 PM IST

Bullying is a deliberate act in which a child exerts power and control over another child of the same age or younger. This isn't an extension of power or strength; this act instead signifies that the bully needs help to deal with some core difficulties that often cause children to act in an overly aggressive and dominating manner. While this is an unhealthy trait and will affect the development and personality of the bully, it can be a lot more damaging to the victim. Children often suffer in silence and are unable to express themselves and seek help or are simply afraid to do so. In such situations, it s important to pay heed to any signs that indicate that your child may be a victim of bullying:

Loss of stationary or supplies: This is a prime sign that says your child is being bullied at school, especially if not usually in the habit of losing things. A bully will always pick on your child and try to snatch away stationeries and other necessities that your child might posses. This is not due to the fact that the bully is in need of such things, but depriving your child from his or her goodies gives the bully immense pleasure. This in fact hurts your child deeply, knowing that he isn t able to defend or protect himself. This feeling of despair makes him more vulnerable to the bully. So check your child s school bag meticulously to know if everything is intact. Missing stationary or supplies may be a sign that you need to investigate the matter a little deeper. Don t hit the panic button every time your child loses something, but be cautious and try to gauge the situation thoroughly.

Severe mood swings: If your child was always a playful, bundle of joy and suddenly transformed into a quiet shy kid, who prefers to retreat into his own little world, this is a definite give-away. Remember, with children sudden mood swings aren't to be ignored. Especially if you notice that your child is very withdrawn after coming home from school. With an introvert it may be a different story altogether. An introvert child when bullied can turn out to be a bubble of energy at home. But these energies aren't channelled in the right direction and would usually be expressed in bouts of aggressive and violent behaviour.

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Sleep troubles: Check on your child s sleep timings and routine. Stress is a major factor that hampers sleep. Being a victim at school, a place where he spends most of his time, stress levels are only going to soar. This can affect his sleep greatly. Too little or too much sleep is an obvious sign of distress. A child who is victimised by bullying can be traumatised and suffer severe stress and anxiety making sleep unthinkable. On the other hand long sleep hours don't always indicate restful sleep and could instead be a form of escape for your child.

Feels lonely and is without friends: Being a mother, it is natural that you will be aware of your child s activities and the company he keeps. If you notice that your child s list of friends has begun to dwindle and he has fewer or no friends to fall back on to, it could be a sign that he is being bullied at school. This may be because your child s friends are too few or are simply not in a position to stand up for him or are simply scared that they may be the next victims.

Has low self esteem: One of the worst things that bullying does to a child is to erode his self esteem completely. If not addressed swiftly, this can have a lasting effect on his personality. The inability to defend one s self and the accompanying feeling of helplessness can severely affect one s ego and self-esteem, more so with a child. Such an experience can also alter a child s perception of the world around.

Wants to skip school or avoids the playground: If you notice that your child goes cold in the hands and feet as soon as it is time to go to school or the playground and stubbornly resists when you try to move him out, you should know that all is not fine. Sometimes children aren t able to express their feelings of despair in words, so it is important for parents to pick up on such non-verbal cues. If your child gets scared when you take a familiar route or gets clingy when you want to leave him at the playground, it would be wise to talk to your child and get to the core of the problem, rather than trying to discipline him at the time.

Loss of interest in the usual activities: Extracurricular activities are a great way for your child to express, learn and grow. If your child shows the slightest sign of a loss of interest in otherwise pleasurable activities, then it s an obvious sign of worry.

Starts to bully siblings or others at home: A victim of bullying can at times take to reversing roles. Kids often tend to express themselves in ways that appear strange to adults, but it really isn t uncommon for children to lash out in this manner by demonstrating the same aggressive bullying streaks that have been causing them such discomfort. If that isn t a usual trait of your child, get to talking and find out what is happening in his life.

Physical marks of abuse: Cuts, bruises and other physical marks of abuse should be a sign enough that your child is being bullied at school and the incidents need adult intervention soon.

Deteriorating health: Headaches, stomach aches, frequent fevers, tremors, all can be a result of constant bullying happening at school. High levels of stress can have a weakening effect on the immune system making your child prone to sickness and ill-health all too often.

Image source: Getty images

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