[Part 5 in a series]
How can you tell if your children or your friends are being bullied when they won’t admit it?
Watch for these signs in others:
• Feeling anxious or upset about going to school or getting on the school bus
• Complaining of feeling sick—especially with headaches and stomachaches—before school
• Crying before school
• Being unusually quiet
• Avoiding certain people at school
• Having lower self-esteem than usual
• Showing a drop in grades
• Coming home from school with torn clothes
• Having unexplained bruises
• Saying they lost a personal item but not wanting to talk about how it happened
• Not mentioning that a personal item has been broken
• Denying (with irritation) that anything’s bothering them
No matter how great a relationship you have with your children or friends, targets of bullying may be hesitant to reveal what’s going on. They may feel that admission makes them look weak, or they may believe the things others say about them and therefore don’t want to talk about it because they feel shame.
A low self-esteem is a prime give-away that something’s wrong at school.
If you suspect your children or friends are being bullied, be supportive. Tell them OFTEN:
• How much you care about them
• How important they are to you
• That they can tell you anything they’re experiencing at school without judgment
• That their peers are crazy if they don’t “get” them or don't think they’re the most terrific person in the world
• That they are perfect just the way they are
Ultimately, trust your instincts. Parents, if your gut tells you that you should intervene further, set up a meeting immediately with your children’s teacher, school counselor, or principal.