Whether old or young, friends are an important part of a person’s life. They help you through difficult trials and celebrate accomplishments alongside you. As your kids grow through childhood and adolescence, learning how to develop positive peer relationships is critical for healthy development. Ask any teacher – social development is a big part of the learning at most schools.
But, what do you do when your child’s relationship with another student starts to go south? Sometimes, you wait and watch to see if the kids can resolve the issue between themselves. If they can, that can be a sign of a healthy friendship – even the best of friends can sometimes hit a rough patch.
If not, it might be time for your child to ask for some help. Encourage your child to talk to the school counselor, administrators or teachers. If you are concerned about a peer relationship between your child and another student, you should let the school know. Redirection, modeling conflict resolution or other types of positive intervention by the school can help.
How do parents distinguish the difference between simply a bad friend and a situation that involves bullying? According to stopbullying.gov, bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power and that is repeated or has the potential to be repeated. The three types of bullying are described as:
- Verbal Bullying is saying or writing mean things.
- Social Bullying, sometimes called relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationship.
- Physical Bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions.
Whether out of feelings of humiliation, depression, fear or isolation, 6o percent of children never tell an adult about their bullying problems. So how can you recognize if your child is a victim of bullying? Some signs include:
- Unexplained injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or valuables
- Frequent head or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Difficulty sleeping and nightmares
- Changes in eating habits
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors like running away, harming themselves or talking about suicide
Talking to your children regularly, in good times and bad, can help keep critical lines of communication open. This boosts your child’s trust in you and the chances of disclosure should a problem arise. As a parent, modeling kindness and respect for others and encouraging your children to participate in activities they love can be a few of the most proactive bullying prevention available.
It’s hard to think about, but how can you tell if your child is bullying others? Some signs include:
- Increased aggression, including physical altercations
- Extreme competitiveness regarding popularity and reputation
- Frequently disciplined at school
- Friends with children who bully others
- Blame others for their problems
- Do not accept responsibility for their actions
- Unexplained new money or belongings
If you are concerned, talk to your child, discuss what bullying is, consult with your school and seek counseling if appropriate.
If your child is facing bullying, the Bartlesville Public Schools have some resources to help. Visit the Bartlesville Public Schools’ website and click on “Parents and Students” to learn more. You or your child can download a free app called “P3Tips”, which allows you to make anonymous reports or you can make a confidential call the Bartlesville Student Crime Stoppers at 918-336-CLUE.