Anxiety in Children

Dealing with Bullying

What is Bullying?

Bullying occurs when children are being mean to another child or group of children repetitively. This differs from not getting along or disagreeing with someone; bullying is nasty behaviour that happens over and over again. Common bullying behaviours include:

  • Teasing other children repeatedly
  • Excluding other children from activities
  • Taking another child’s belongings
  • Spreading rumours about other children
  • Calling other children nasty names
  • Saying mean/nasty things to other children
  • Hitting or pushing other children
  • Extorting money or other possessions

Bullying can happen face-to-face or online (cyber-bullying) and can be physically and/or emotionally hurtful for children. Children who are bullied experience difficulties standing up for themselves, and can often result anxiety disorders in children feeling isolated, nervous, experiencing problems at school, or in some cases end up bullying other children.

Signs of Bullying

Some children may not tell you that they are being bullied. If you are worried that your child is being bullied, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Physical signs of bullying e.g., bruises, scratches, torn clothes
  • Missing property
  • Poor appetite and/or sleep
  • Bedwetting
  • Complaining about stomach aches; making excuses to avoid going to school
  • Staying close to teachers during breaks
  • Difficulties answering questions in class or difficulties with schoolwork
  • Social withdrawal
  • Being chosen last for teams and games
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Tearfulness
  • Anger
  • Secretive behaviour

There are no definite indicators of bullying; how your child responds to bullying depends on a variety of factors including your child’s temperament and how severe the bullying is. If you have concerns about your child’s behaviours/behavioural changes and are worried that they might be getting bullied at school, speak to a trained health professional.

Treatment for Bullying

Psychotherapy can be helpful for children who are experiencing bullying. Therapy can help children notice, share, and process any negative emotions experienced as a result of bullying, which if left unattended can negatively impact a child’s well-being. Working with a psychologist, children will also be taught various strategies to deal with bullies and the impact of bullying, including skills in assertive communication and boundary setting.