What is the difference between being rude, being mean, and bullying?
- Rude is when someone unintentionally says or does something that hurts another person. These behaviours are often spontaneous and have occurred before the person was able to think about what they were doing. When a person is rude, it is not planned behaviour, and their intention is not to hurt another person.
- Being mean involves purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once or maybe twice. Mean behaviour is intended to harm another person and is often motivated by anger.
- Bullying is intentional aggressive behaviour that is repeated over again and involves an imbalance of power. People who bully others say or do things to hurt others intentionally and they keep doing it without feeling remorse for the other person. Despite telling the bully to stop, they may persist in their behaviour toward the bullied person.
Why do children bully?
- Children may feel like they want to fit in with a group of friends. They may engage in bullying behaviours to show others that they are powerful and belong.
- Children who bully others may be bullied themselves. Children who experience violence (at home or school) may try to regain a sense of power and control by acting aggressively toward others
- Children who bully may be looking for attention from teachers, parents, or other children, and have not been successful in getting recognition in positive ways.
- Some children bully because, by nature, they are more assertive and impulsive than others and may not know healthy coping strategies
- Some children may not understand how their behaviour is making other students feel.
How to know if my child is being bullied?
- Children who are being bullied may not want to tell anyone about their situation. If you notice that your child has become reluctant to go to school or doesn’t want to play with the kids they used to enjoy playing with, it may be a sign that something is going on.
- Children who are being bullied may begin to complain of headaches and stomach aches, especially in the morning before going to school. Younger children may cling to their parents more than usual, and older children may begin to isolate themselves from others.
- Some children may get anxious or nervous about going to school and experience difficulty with sleeping.
- Children who are being bullied at school may struggle with concentrating on their schoolwork, which can affect their learning and their grades.
- Bullying can be difficult for children to handle. Children who are experiencing bullying may become more irritable or more emotional.
- Your child makes excuses to stay home from school or refuses to participate in activities they used to enjoy
- Your child experiences a loss of appetite
- Appears sad all the time and seems to have low self-esteem
How do I help my child who is being bullied?
- The above signs may be a signal bullying, or they may be signs that something else is going on for your child. If your child displays any of these behaviours, talk with them in a kind and supportive manner to find out more information about what is going on for them.
- If you feel your child is being bullied, instead of asking, “Are you being bullied?” try asking,
- Do you have any special friends at school this year? What are they like? Who do you hang out with at recess or lunch?
- Who do you sit with on the bus? Or at lunch/recess?
- Are there any kids in your school that you don’t like? Why don’t you like them? What have they done to you that you don’t like?
- How many times has this happened?
My child is being bullied, now what do I do?
- If your child discloses that they are being bullied at school, try to assure them that you love them, it’s not their fault, and let them know that they can come to you about anything
- Have a conversation with your child about how you should proceed. Some children may feel scared if their parents speak to the school or the teacher that the bullying may get worse.
- You can say: “Thank you for coming and telling me about what is happening at school. I love you very much, and I want to help you, so this doesn’t keep happening. What are some ways you think I can help?”
- If your child doesn’t want you to talk to the school, but you believe that you need to speak to the school you can try saying to your child:
- “I know it is hard to go through this, but I am worried about you. We have to tell your teacher what you told me, so they know, and they can also help you feel safe at school.”
- Akram Jomaa offers school counselling for children, as well. If your child is being bullied, you can make an appointment to speak with a school counsellor for strategies to help your child and for your child to have a safe person in the school to talk with.
- Kids help phone offers free resources and over the phone counselling for children who are being bullied. You and your child can contact them anytime at 1-800-668-6868
How to tell if my child is bullying other children:
- Children who bully other children may shift the blame to other children, rather than taking ownership for their actions. They may have difficulty recognizing how their actions may be making the problem worse.
- Children who are bullying other children are often part of a bigger group, or they may have friends who act aggressively as well. If you notice that your child’s friends are mean towards other children, or if you’ve seen their friends are bullying other children, it may be possible that your child is participating in this behaviour as well.
- Sometimes children bully other children because they are tired or having sleep issues. If you notice that your child is bullying other children, take note of their sleeping patterns.
- The teacher may have spoken to you about your child’s behaviour at school
- Children who are easily frustrated, impulsive, easily prone to fighting, or have difficulties with understanding other emotions, may have a higher risk of bullying other children. Some children may even brag about getting into a fight with other children.
- The child is witnessing violence in other aspects of their lives, either at home or on tv. Children who witness violent behaviour are more likely to act violently towards others, as children learn from seeing. When anger is modelled in the home, on T.V, in the classroom, or on the playground, children may become more inclined to take their anger out on other people in a similar way.
I think my child is bullying other children. What do I do?
- If you hear or notice that your child is bullying other children, the first thing to do is to speak to your child about what is going on for them. You can say something like, “I noticed (or heard) that you have been involved in bullying, and I wanted to talk to you about it. I am concerned about this, and it is important that we talk about it.”
- Asking your child why they are treating other children in this way, can help you understand why the behaviour is happening, and what steps you need to take to help your child stop the behaviour. You can ask questions like
- "Why do you think you keep saying mean things to that child?”
- If your child is young, or you’re having difficulty understanding why your child is bullying other children, consider speaking to the school counsellor.
- Ask your child, “When you do this to this child, what do you think they are thinking and feeling at that moment?” or “Have you been a situation where another child teased you and made you cry? How did you feel?”
- These questions may help the child to empathize with the students they are bullying.
- If you believe your child is bullying, please reach out to your child’s teacher, the school counselor, or the administrative team.
Watch this video and be kind!