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Bullying: Spotting the signs
Bullying: Spotting the signs

Spotting signs of bullying

Your child might tell you that she’s being bullied. For example, she might say that other children are teasing her, making fun of her, putting her down, laughing at her, calling her names, ignoring her or threatening her.

If your child doesn’t say anything but you’re worried, here are some signs to look out for.

Physical signs
These include:

  • bruises, cuts and scratches
  • torn clothes
  • missing property
  • poor eating or sleeping
  • bedwetting
  • complaints about headaches or tummy aches.

Requests for money or other items
The person doing the bullying might be demanding money or things like lunch box treats from your child.

School or preschool problems
Your child might:

  • not want to go to preschool or school
  • stay close to teachers during breaks
  • start sitting alone
  • have difficulty asking or answering questions in class, or have trouble with schoolwork or homework
  • stop taking part in school activities.

Social changes
Your child might avoid social events that he used to enjoy, like parties. Or you might notice that he’s:

  • being excluded at lunch and recess
  • losing contact with classmates after school
  • being chosen last for teams and games.

Emotional changes
Your child might seem unusually anxious, nervous, upset, unhappy, down, teary, angry, withdrawn and secretive. These changes might be more obvious at the end of weekends or holidays, when your child has to go back to school.

These signs don’t necessarily mean your child is being bullied. They could be signs of other issues, like depression. If you’re concerned, speak to your GP or other health professional.

There’s no single way to tell whether your child is being bullied. The way your child reacts to bullying will depend on how bad the bullying is, as well as your child’s personality.

Worried your child is being bullied: finding out more

It can be hard to know for sure whether your child is being bullied. But if your child is being bullied, talking about the bullying is one of the best ways to help and protect her.

To find out more about what’s going on, you could try some of these conversation starters for children aged 4-6 years:

  • Who did you play with today? Is there anyone you don’t like to play with? Why?
  • What sort of games did you play? Did you enjoy them?
  • Are you looking forward to going to school tomorrow?

Or try these conversation starters for children aged 7-8 years:

  • What did you do at lunchtime today?
  • Is there anyone at school you don’t like? Why?
  • Are you looking forward to going to school tomorrow?

When you’re talking with your child about school, try to keep the conversation relaxed and friendly, and avoid bombarding your child with questions. Just give your child your full attention, ask him simple questions, and listen to the answers. You could try saying things like, ‘So what happened next?’ and ‘What did you do then?’ This approach can help your child open up to you.


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