Talk With Your Kids About Bullying – Signs, Silence And Healing
Hello my name is Jody and I was bullied as a child. I believe it is a very important topic to discuss for the future well-being of my children as well as all children. The only way to become better at something is to understand what is holding you back from succeeding. Being a father is one if not the most important things a man can ever do in his life. Unless we come into it with excellent role models from our lives we will most likely find it challenging to say the least. One of our jobs is to set the example for our children in all aspects of life.
Our children spend around 40 hours a week at school. That is a lot of time. Ensuring they stay safe and are able to focus while at school needs to be a priority for us. BULLYING is one thing that can cause a child to panic, be fearful, unable to focus and in general view school as a living hell. As a father you need to talk with your kids about bullying so they understand if they are victims of it they are not doing anything to deserve it. That you always will be someone they can turn to for help. That they are not alone. If you learn your child is a bully it is just as important that you be on them about such poor behavior explaining how it hurts the person they are doing it to and how they would feel if it was done to them. Just as important though is helping both victims and bullies deal with this type of behavior so that when they grow up it does not affect them as adults.
Our children are the future for this world. Every single one of them deserves to be protected, loved and nurtured. Their full potential will be much harder to reach if they become damaged along the way from bullying. As fathers, we need to do our part to help end this and heal our children so they become strong adults. This is our goal after all right?
I Need Take Action – Don’t Assume, Ask
Maybe it is just me but I believe as adults we tend to forget what it is like to be a child. For most, it has been 20 to 30 years since we were children and although we can have memories of our childhood they tend to fade overtime in how well we recall those experiences.
When it comes to bullying I have blocked out a lot of those experiences and only upon researching for this post did they come back to me at least on a conscious level. As a parent I need take action and not wait or assume everything is fine with my daughter. She is in grade two and I asked her recently about bullying, if it was being done to her or if she saw other kids being bullied. I explained that I was bullied as a child and how this affected me on a level she can understand like it made me feel sad, alone. I tried explaining how it is not right for kids to be bullied as they have done nothing to deserve it. To stand up to bullies and tell her teacher and us if she is being bullied of seeing bullying occurring.
I hope by starting now I can help my daughter learn that bullying is WRONG, just as are stealing and lying. That there is nothing bad with saying something to her teacher and her parents. As a father I want to help her understand this and take action when it needs to be taken. As a person on this earth I want to help change the belief that it is ok to see bullying going on and do and/or say nothing.
How many of you were bullied as a child? How many of you say it happening but did nothing? I personally do not recall many of my classmates from grade school or even high school but I do recall the ones bullied me. I would not want my daughter to have someone recall her in such a light. I want her to leave positive memories on her classmates.
True Stories On Bullying – My Experiences
So this is the part where I will share with you true stories on bullying, specifically my own experiences of it. I recall being bullied all the way back since grade 1 when I moved to the town that I grew up in. Before that my family moved around from home to home in the town I was born in. I had a very hard time making friends with other children. Having a learning disability did not help me either. Nothing felt worse than being called out of class to go the special education classroom after class had begun. Why to this day they decided it was a good idea to do that in the manner they did I do not understand.
Anyways these are some factors I believe that contributed to me being bullied. I recall being in class thinking that other kids thought I made the best animal sounds. I would do them because I believed it made me accepted by those kids at the table we were sitting at. It is obvious to me now with hindsight that the other kids were encouraging me to do it because they could not believe another kid would do such things. They found it funny and I was not so wise to catch on. That is on me though and I do not hold it against them now.
I recall being in class and asked to go to the special education classroom. I had to get up in front of my classmates and every time it was painful for me the looks I got from my classmates. Some of those kids would make mean comments to me about having to go to the special education classroom before and after I returned. I wanted to stay in my classroom with my classmates I did not want to go. But at the same time I saw benefits of going such as being able to work on skills I needed to help get me caught back up to the level my regular classmates were at.
I was bullied in middle school by other kids through intimidation such as the bully making me feel their skills at something were far superior to that of mine. It could have been in classes such as math, English and gym among others. As such I allowed myself to feel like I was worthless and for a LONG time I believed it. Even in high school and into early adulthood. On some levels I still struggle today with this.
Another experience I remember now is of this one kid in grade school was older than me. For whatever reason he picked on the younger children by physically abusing them. One day after school he chased me from school to my home. I almost made it home but he caught up to me and put me in a headlock. I do not recall for how long but it seemed like it was forever. This happened on a few occasions before he lost interest and stopped.
In high school bullying continued not physically but emotionally and mentally. At this point though I believe my self-esteem was at such a low point that it was easy for a select group of classmates to bully me. I was friends with one kid who I believed was a friend. In hindsight though he was only ever a bully to me. He would play fight with me which I liked since I wanted to practice karate (at the time ninja turtles had just come out). Thing is though he would use me more than help me learn. If I was uncomfortable with something he was practicing he would not stop.
Another kid I was friends/being bullied by became friends with the above kid through my friendship/bullying experience with both of them. Again he did similar things such as not respecting me when I was uncomfortable with a situation. He did it regardless of whether I was comfortable or not.
Eventually I reached a point thankfully were I cut off my relationships/bullying experiences with both of them. This did not happen until we were all well into our high school years. I should have stopped it much sooner but did not realize it was going on, know enough to tell my teachers or my parents as I believed it was wrong to tell someone. I went on a field trip one-time that all grade niners did at my high school each year for history and learning about the capital of Canada.
It was from start to finish a stressful time for me as I spent it with the second kid I mentioned above, sleeping in the same bed nonetheless. I shudder now to think about how painful it was for me. The trip was like 3 or 4 days long. Every second of it I felt like I needed to be on guard. I do not remember anything from that trip now except for the fear, stress and anxious I felt.
Going back to when I was younger one summer I went to summer camp for a week. I do not recall who exactly was picking on me but I was picked on so bad by other kids that after one or two days I asked the camp to call my parents to come pick me up. I went home crying it was so bad. It was at night when they came to pick me up.
I believed as a child that being bullied there was nothing I could do about it, that it was just a part of my daily life at school. It never crossed my mind while it went on that it could be different. One thing that hurt me was the clothes I wore, school supplies I used and so on. My daughter is in a private school that has each child wear uniforms. At least as far as clothes go she will not have to deal with that aspect of school. For those of you with children in schools that do not have uniform requirements I urge you to reconsider the clothes you buy for your child for school. Find out and buy the clothes that are considered cool. Maybe your child has an idea of what they are. I do not want my kids to go through what I did so clothes are one way to help avoid bullying.
Warning Signs For Bullying – Eyes Open Daddy
Since I was bullied as a child I have done a good job of blocking out much of the part of my life. As such I had to do research into warning signs for bullying so you and I can be aware that it may be occurring.
One thing I learned is when our children have nightmares while sleeping it could be as a result of bullying going on at school. In my opinion my mind attempts to deal with problems I encounter during the day that I was unable to resolve. Or things that are weighing me down with worry also materialize in my dreams. It is logical to me that our children brains will also deal with unresolved issues at school such as ongoing bullying. I never told my parents or anyone for that matter about my dreams. So please be aware even if you notice your child having nightmares they may not share with you what they are about.
If you notice a change in how your child is eating it may indicate bullying is happening to them. They may eat less food consistently or eat more than they need to be comfortably full. If you notice your child is coming home hungry because they didn’t eat their lunch it could indicate bullying.
One thing I would find very distressing is to see my children coming home with injuries but not telling us how they occurred. Research indicates kids do indeed have this happen to them and not explain to their parents what happened. Also, if they are missing or have damaged school supplies, clothing, personal things like a favorite gadget or necklace is an indication they maybe the victim of bullying.
Faking illness is another sign bullying is happening. I personally can attest to this as I on occasion when sick stretched out the days I could stay home by pretending to be worse than I was. For me if I see this in my children it will alert me to possible bullying. I learned also kids make excuses like have headaches and stomach aches to get out of going to school. Remember, as a former bullied kid, kids will do almost anything to get away from being bullied even if it is for just one day of school.
This leads me to another indicator which is a decline in grades and loss of interest in school in general. Although I never had good or great grades to begin with because of my learning disability I was not interested in school to the degree I might have been had bullying not been going on with me. It makes complete sense to me if grades fall and a child loses interest in school that something might be going on with them like bullying. Please be on the look out for such a sign.
One sign that could indicate your child is being bullied is avoidance of social situations and a loss of friends. If you notice either of these know that something is most likely going on with your child and investigate further. You can start by sharing with your child that you too once where in their position in school. That you know that being a child in school can be challenging and that no matter what they are going through they can always talk with you to get stuff off their chest if they need to. To see things from a different perspective and KNOW that they are not alone. We need to work at keeping open lines of communication with our children so that when life happens we can work with them to navigate the rocky waters.
If you notice your child is feeling helpless or showing less self-esteem you will want to be on alert for bullying of your child. This is another indication it could be happening.
At this point I believe it is important to share that how one child will react to bullying and having low self-esteem will be different from another. The media pushes the message that all tragic shootings we see in school are the result of loners, having low self-esteem and being picked on are the result of bullying. For many children that are bullied I would venture to guess that like me they tolerate, endure it and than get on with the rest of their lives as best they can. Silence is the name of the game.
I learned another sign of bullying is of kids who run away from home, harm themselves and talk of suicide. I will be honest and say sometimes I dreamed of running away from home although it was only ever just a thought to me. I never really gave it any real power by taking any action. I was in a lot of pain as a child and DO NOT WANT this to continue. Bullying is wrong.
The world is hard enough, there are enough challenges to deal without children having to deal with being bullied. As fathers, we need to take action starting today to help our children. If they are being bullied we may not know about it unless we talk with our children. We may not know about it unless we watch for signs of it in our children. I do not want to create a generation of paranoid fathers. That won’t get any positive results either.
Signs Your Child Is Bullying Others
Also, important to discuss are signs that our children may be bullying others. I do not want to come across as if I am against bullies. I am aware they most likely are feeling very bad about themselves so much so that they feel the need to bully kids in the first place.
Some signs are if your child gets into physical and/or verbal fights. Kids who picked on me and bullied me were physically and verbally abusive to me. So I agree with this as being a sign. If you notice your child is being friends with other kids that are bullies than this may be a sign your child is a bully themselves. Well as a kid I was bullied and hung out with kids that were bullies so I am not 100 percent in agreement with this as a sign. I would non the less be on alert as to why one of my children is hanging out with a kid who is known to bully other kids and investigate.
Another sign I learned of a child is a bully is that they are becoming increasingly aggressive. Really any change of personality in our children should be a sign something may be wrong with our children. It is harder for me to comment on signs of bullying since I was not a bully. If you notice your child is being sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently than this is yet another sign they are bullying someone. In my opinion though this could be signs of other problems that need to be addressed by us as parents.
Do you notice your has extra money or new things that they did not have before? It is a strong indication to me that bullying may be going on with your child being the bully. If your child blames others, won’t accept responsibility for their actions or are overly competitive and worry about their reputation could all be signs they are bullying. Each of these last signs as a person who was bullied as a child I can see being true indicators of my or your child being a bully, especially the last one about being overly competitive and worrying about their reputation. I had kids bully me to help increase their own reputations in school.
Reasons Why Children Being Bullied Say Nothing
As a child I never told my parents that I was being bullied. When I was older my mother one time asked me why I never told her as she would have done something to have it stopped. I said I did not know which at the time was true. I had suppressed my feelings and memories.
In researching why children say nothing to an adult about being bullied I learned of various reasons. One reason being that it can make a child feel they are weak and can not resolve it on their own. They fear being seen as a tattletale in the eyes of their parents, teachers and most importantly their classmates. Unless they switch to a different school they KNOW their classmates will be with them until the end of high school.
Backlash from their bully is another motivating factor to not say anything. As a child knowing that once the bully has served his or her punishment they will be actively looking for the one who caused them to be punished to give payback is a strong motivator to a child to remain silent. I understand this feeling completely as it may have been one of my motivations for keeping quiet, the fear that the bully would get me back and things would become MUCH WORSE than they already were.
Being bullied is an embarrassing experience to say the least. I remember how awful it felt to be put in a headlock that one time by a bully near my home. I just wanted it to end, for no one at least that knew me to see. It is actually quiet sad that I am only NOW in my 30s discussing what went on.
I took a small break just now from typing this post. Sharing how this made me feel at the time gave me flashbacks to the experience I thought I had surprised. I reflected on the feeling and it was and IS a lonely, desperate, hopeless feeling.
How awful it is that children even today are still exposed to such experiences. It is my belief that children when born are very close to how GOD is. As they age, life teaches them through daily experiences of how humans are supposed to act, behave and feel. Being bullied robs them of something and leaves a mark despite suppressing the memories.
I apologize for getting a little off track. So as bullying is a horrible experience for children they fear adults will see them as somehow being weak and deserving of the bullying. So they avoid bringing it up.
Children who are being bullied my feel now one would care if they said something if they are already social outcasts. The final thing I learned is that children may not say something about the bullying out of fear of being rejected by their friends and peers. If they lose that than they would be completely open to further and more aggressive bullying. I can relate to this on a personal level as I did not say things to an adult when I was being bullied out of this same fear. Instead, I would hold it in which I am sure now only made things worse for me.
Although I had low self-esteem I did not feel I deserved to be bullied. According to sources I found there are children that feel this way. They have low self-esteem and feel they deserve the bullying, like it is all they are worthy of.
All of these reasons I have listed here make me very sad. As a father I personally want to do all I can to one, ensure that my children are not bullied. Two that if my children see bullying no matter what they say something either to the bully, to a teacher or my wife and I. Third that my children understand the effects of bullying on others and that they never engage in such actions with other children.
Why Kids Who See Bullying Say Nothing
As I touched on briefly just now sometimes children who see bullying say nothing at all to an adult of any authority. Whether it be a teacher, principal or parents they remain quiet.
Why is this even possible? How you may ask is it a reality. It is not as bad as the bullying but it is up there as if they say something there is a good chance the bullying will be dealt with.
I actually feel for children and classmates who may have done this around me when I was being bullied. You know something, I just realized that bullying has the potential to affect the child being bullied, the bully itself and bystanders who say nothing. I never considered that point of view before. Have you? Share below in the comments.
I read that children believe bullying can only be a physical act. This needs to change especially in light of the rise of SOCIAL MEDIA. Children have been brought up to believe an incomplete story. So but through sharing with our children of the different ways they can get bullied it will bring more awareness. It is time we begin to change this narrative of what constitutes bullying.
How To Stop Bullying
I had to search online for ways to stop bullying if your child is being bullied because as a child I never dealt with stopping bullying. I learned such things as follows:
- Teach our children to speak out against bullies when they see it happening is one way to help stop bullying. As fathers, we need to take it upon ourselves to EDUCATE our children about this. That it may not always be easy to but your child will increase their own self-esteem by doing such a deed.
- Encourage your child start an anti-bullying promise to stand up to kids bullying other kids. The message I took from this is that if more kids work together, view bullying as wrong and stand up against it, bullying will be harder to get away with. It is easier for kids when they have a group supporting them to do the right thing.
- Another way to stop bullying educate your child to tell you, your teacher or the principal when a child is being bullied. This way adults will be involved and can be vigilant to ensure the bullying is dealt with directly. School is supposed to be a place for learning, not one where a child goes to and is fearful throughout the day.
- Encourage your child to start a school blog/article in the school newspaper about speaking out against bullying. Get creative and think of ways to help end bullying.
What About The Bullies?
I realize that this post has focused on the victims of bullying. Despite this I believe it is just as important to focus on the children doing the actual bullying. They are after all CHILDREN. Something is causing them to behave in horrible ways to their classmates. I do not hear many attempts to understand what is going on with these children. In the posts I have read, videos I have watched and from my time as a child I do not recall times when they were taken into consideration. The focus I have found is on the victims. As it should be. Not denying this one bit. At the same time though if we work at helping children deal with their issues that do the bullying as well it would best for everyone involved.
Some children may get caught up in peer pressure and bully other children. But for others there may be issues in their home life that they themselves are unable to deal with. They DESERVE to be given the same love and attention as the child who is being bullied. If we do not address this now these children will FEEL they are only bad which they will carry that into adulthood. They may be more likely to not function normally as a member of society.
I do believe some children bully because they can. As adults, they may come to regret their actions as a child and take steps to undo the harm it may have caused classmates. Honestly I believe there must be a multitude of factors that lead to one child bullying another. I also believe it is not enough to just say STOP THAT to the bully. Connecting with the child and sharing in what they are going through helps them feel not alone. If they feel like someone understands their PAIN they will in my view be less likely to keep doing it. They may even stand up to bullies once they have found peace.
For me that is enough of a reason to also think about the bullies. How about you?
Below I have included some touching videos of former bullies and victims meeting after many years in which they both find peace and are able to start healing the wounds that clearly exist into their adult lives.
Bullying is a serious issue that can affect both the victims and bullies well into adulthood. As fathers, we need to do our part so that our children are less likely to be affected by it. With the invention of social media new forms of bullying have sprung into existence. Some very scary and sad.
Maybe like me you were bullied. Maybe you have stories you can share with your friends, family and children? Start a group of fathers at your school to help raise awareness of bullying. Create a safe place for children being bullied to turn to. Think outside of the box in order to find something that works. For me personally what I looked for and found comfort in was an activity club that meet once a week at the local community center. It made me feel safe, secure and able to be myself with my peers something which I found very hard to come by at school. I would encourage such groups to be formed if not already in place and to meet more than once a week. Children being bullied need to feel normal and to have their self-esteem built up.
As fathers, we need to pay attention to warning signs our children may be the victims of bullying. They will manifest in our children in one form or another and we need to do our best to pay attention to them so we can do something. We also need to be alert to signs that our children may be bullying other children. We need to educate our children on all forms of bullying so that when they see it they will take action to help prevent it from continuing. It is beneficial to also see how we as fathers can help stop bullying from occurring.
Last but not least we need to consider the bullies themselves, not just scold them and send them to the principal’s office. By investing in them, investigating the underlying issues causing them to bully lies the possibility we can help stop them from bullying. They may be able to feel they are not alone and that people care.
Thank you for reading.
Please leave your comments and questions below and I will get back as soon as possible.
If you enjoyed this post then I recommend you read another post I created about our actions meriting RESPECT.
Proud papa of two,