Thank you to all who have submitted questions to parenting expert Michele Borba! Michele is a globally-recognized educational psychologist and parenting expert whose aim is to strengthen children’s empathy and resilience.
Michele is also an NBC contributor, a regular guest on the Today Show and has appeared on other shows, such as Dateline, Anderson Cooper 360, The Dr. Phil Show, Dr. Oz, The View, NBC Nightly News and The Early Show.
Here are bullying questions from our readers, and Michele’s responses:
1. How should I approach my daughter about bullying? I think she is getting bullied but is too embarrassed to talk about it.
Children who are embarrassed or humiliated about being bullied are unlikely to discuss it with their parents or teachers and generally suffer in silence, withdraw and try to stay away from school. So, start talking to your child about bullying before it ever happens. Tell your child you are always available, and recognize it is a growing problem. Notice when other children are reported to be bullied in your child’s circle of friends and acquaintances, or there’s an example in the media or on TV, and use it as an occasion to bring up the subject.
It’s also less threatening if you begin the conversation by asking: “Bullying seems to be such a problem these days. Are your friends bullied?” Or refer to the school website (hopefully, there is the school’s bullying prevention policy posted): “I’m glad your school has clear bullying prevention rules. If you were ever bullied, how do you report it?”
2. Bullying seems to be such a big issue these days. How will I know if my child is bullied?
Chances are, if your child is bullied they won’t tell you, so watch for changes in your child’s typical behavior. Of course, these may not be signs of bullying but of something else. So if you note a behavior change, arrange a conference with your child’s teacher or counselor to discuss your next steps to help your child.
These changes could include:
- Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes or torn clothing
- Unexplained loss of toys, school supplies, clothing, lunches or money
- Fear of to being left alone: doesn’t want to go to school; afraid of riding the school bus; wants you there at dismissal, suddenly clingy
- Suddenly sullen, withdrawn, evasive; remarks about feeling lonely
- Marked changed in typical behavior or personality
- Physical complaints; headaches, stomachaches, frequently visits the school nurse’s office
- Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bed wetting
- Begins bullying siblings or younger kids
- Waits to get home to use the bathroom
- Ravenous when comes home (lunch money or lunch may be stolen)
- Sudden and significant drop in grades; difficulty focusing and concentrating
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