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Anti-Bullying Issue1234

The Many Forms of Bullying

Bullying: Different Problems at Different Ages

It’s an unfortunate fact that bullying occurs, and it may surprise you to know that it occurs among every age group. The only ​things that really change are the tactics bullies use to torment their victims. From preschool to high school, bullying can take a toll on a child who is victimized. One way to help is to learn what bullying behavior you need to watch for in children of various ages.


You might hesitate at the thought of calling a toddler or preschooler a bully, but the fact is these are the ages when bullying begins. Antisocial behavior begins early in life, and without intervention, it can easily snowball into a much bigger problem.

Young children show signs of bullying by biting, intimidating smaller or younger children, and consistently behaving badly at daycare or school. When this happens, it’s crucial for parents and other adults to monitor, teach and model for a child better ways of handling his or her emotions and behavior.

Now, some bullying behavior is part of normal development. However, if your child is frequently using bullying behaviors, then you should teach him or her positive replacement behaviors. For example, several times each day, have your child practice being considerate to others. Teach him or her to say "Please" and "Thank you," instead of grabbing things and running away. You also can let your child earn privileges when he or she practices or interacts well with others.

If you want to teach your child to stop biting, bullying and exhibiting other bad behavior, these strategies can help:

  • Stop the problem when it's small.
  • Use swift and meaningful consequences.
  • Train your child to do something else instead.
  • Reinforce your child's positive efforts.
  • Model leadership skills, and change the play environment.
  • Be firm with your child without turning into a bully yourself.

Elementary School

Around ages 8 and 9, physical and verbal attacks become a bully’s favorite forms of torment — basically what comes to mind when you think of schoolyard bullying. Hitting, kicking, tripping and pushing are common types of physical bullying, as is destroying or damaging a victim’s property. Verbal bullying includes name-calling, insults, teasing and intimidation. In the higher elementary school grades, social bullying may begin with gossiping or spreading false rumors and grow into humiliating a victim.

Your child may be the victim of bullying if he or she shows the following warning signs:

  • A drastic change in behavior
  • Making excuses for why he or she can’t go to school
  • Stomachaches, headaches or other pains that could signal stress
  • A dramatic change in school grades or participation, or other difficulties in school
  • Avoiding friends or certain people
  • Nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts or injuries
  • Missing or damaged property

Middle School, Junior High and High School

Middle school and junior high are typically the time when social bullying — spreading gossip and rumors — peaks. It’s bad enough when rumors run rampant through the halls of your child’s school, but today’s bullies have even more sophisticated ways to torment their victims: text messaging, instant messaging/chat, and internet and social media sites.

Ages 12 through 17 are a tough time for any child, and the fact that cyberbullying occurs most often among this age group means that parents need to be aware of their children’s online activities and watch for signs of cyberbullying. Kids everywhere use the internet, and not just as a benign modern distraction. Preteens and teens are using the web as a blunt weapon of relational aggression and mass destruction. It is tailor-made for aggression, and kids are drawn to its power for spreading gossip quickly, anonymously and to an infinite audience — a thriving environment for cyberbullying.

This type of bullying is worse than verbal rumors; at least rumors eventually die out. On the internet, kids can cut, paste, print or forward conversations so malicious tales can live on forever. Here are some signs of cyberbullying to watch for:

  • Your child been on the receiving end of mysterious rumors.
  • Your child suddenly is having friendship troubles.
  • Your child is moodier than usual.
  • Your child has stopped hanging out with certain people.

Teaching Activity

Learning to Make and Keep Friends

Making and keeping friends are important to a child’s development. The ability to form friendships enriches your child’s school experience, improves self-esteem and builds social skills. Here’s an activity you can do with your child to teach him or her how to be a good friend.

  1. Sit down with your child and discuss what behaviors make someone a good friend. For example, depending on your child’s age, he or she might say:
    1. Sharing
    2. Enjoying the same activities
    3. Playing fairly
    4. Listening to one another
    5. Sharing the same interests and/or values
    6. Being honest
  2. Also, discuss with your child what behaviors make someone a bad friend. For example:
    1. Not sharing or being selfish
    2. Teasing or name-calling
    3. Lying or spreading rumors
    4. Hitting, punching or kicking
  3. Ask your child what he or she does to be a good friend. With younger children, have them trace their hand on a sheet of paper and write one good quality on each of their paper fingers.
  4. Ask your child what he or she could do to be a better friend. Again, younger children can trace their hand on a sheet of paper and write one way they could improve on each of their paper fingers.

Social Skills

Ignoring Distractions by Others

Bullies often try to disrupt classroom and social situations by causing distractions that involve their victims. You can teach your child to not contribute to a bully’s behavior by ignoring the distractions. Here are the steps for the skill of “Ignoring Distractions by Others”:

  1. Try not to look at people who are being distracting.
  2. Stay focused on your work or task.
  3. Do not respond to questions, teasing or giggling.
  4. If necessary, report this behavior to a nearby adult or authority figure.

Coming up in Issue 4

How to Prevent Bullying and Get Help


Talking to Your Child about Bullying


Appropriately Resolving Conflicts​

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