Children need to learn how to navigate all types of social situations, including conflict with friends and classmates. Some conflict is a normal part of growing up—there will always be disagreements that kids learn to work through.
Bullying is different than normal childhood conflicts. It is ongoing harassment that breaks a child down. Kids that are being bullied need support from parents, the school, and their peers to address what is happening and ensure they feel safe, welcomed, and included.
As a parent, how do you know if your child is experiencing normal peer conflicts or if they are being bullied? Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- Reluctance to go to school. Kids who are being bullied try to avoid going to school. They may complain of feeling sick or may show signs of being afraid to go to school.
- Grades begin to fall. Kids who are being bullied may lose interest in school as they are simply trying to survive the day. Their grades often suffer.
- Change in friendships. They no longer want to hang out with friends and will often isolate themselves. People they’ve been friends with for a long time may suddenly not be in their lives.
- Lost or destroyed clothing or personal items or unexplained injuries
- Difficulty sleeping
- Self-harm. Kids who are being bullied may start to harm themselves by cutting or burning, and they may also talk about suicide.