Bullying is a nationwide problem. One in every four students report being bullied according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. For children with ADHD, this might be even higher. A study completed in Sweden in 2007 found that children with ADHD were 10 times more likely to be bullied than those without ADHD. The following are ways you can be more aware of whether your child is being bullied and help him or her manage the situation.
Some children are embarrassed, ashamed or think calling attention to bullying is going to make the situation worse. For these reasons, children often don’t tell their parents they are being bullied. The following are some of the warning signs that your child might be being bullied.
Doesn’t have friends. Children who don’t have friends are easier “targets” for bullies. If your child doesn’t mention any friends at school, he or she might not be being bullied but this could be a sign you need to work on social skills.
Shows signs of not wanting or being afraid to go to school. Your child might tell you he is afraid to ride the bus, stay after school for activities, go to gym class or go outside at recess. Or, your child might consistently have headaches or stomach aches to avoid going to school.
Comes home with damaged clothing or belongings. Many times, bullying doesn’t lead to torn or damaged clothing, it can be more of pushing, shoving or name calling. It might not rise to this level, however, if your child has torn or damaged clothing or belongings (such as backpacks), you should have a serious discussion of how the damage occurred without being accusatory or judgmental.
Missing belongings or money. Bullies sometimes “demand” payment to leave someone alone or your child might willingly hand over money or belongings to try to make the bullies happy. You might also notice your child’s request for extra money or his unwillingness to bring personal items or money to school.
Seems moody or depressed when coming home from school. Children who are bullied might be sad, depressed, irritable or angry when coming home from school. Once home and in a safe environment, your child’s mood might lighten. You might notice a difference in behaviors between school days and weekends.
Change in eating or sleeping habits. Being bullied in school creates anxiety, even when your child isn’t in school. A change in eating or sleeping habits (including having nightmares) can signal that your child is worried about something.
Doing poorly in school. Grades can often suffer when a child is being bullied. High anxiety levels can interfere with your child’s ability to focus and pay attention. Depression, anxiety and trouble sleeping can all create problems with schoolwork.
Avoiding talking about school. Many children, whether bullied or not, reply with a one word answer when asked how their day went. However, children who are bullied might avoid any conversation about school because they don’t want to admit they are being bullied.
If you notice some of these warning signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean your child is being bullied but it might signal it is time to talk to your child about what it going on in school. Reinforce to your child that you are there to be supportive and help find solutions. Ask about your child’s friends, who he spends time with at recess or sits with on the bus. Ask if anyone is making fun of him or picking on him. Be sure to do so in a nonjudgmental way. You might also want to set up a meeting with your child’s teacher to get an “inside” view of what is going on in the classroom.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.