Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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How can I tell if my child is being bullied?

October 2, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I tell if my child is being bullied? | A mother hugs her son.

Question: As a parent, how can I tell if my son is being bullied? Are there signs I can easily recognize?

Answer: This is a great question, as it can be difficult to know when your child is being bullied at school or in daycare. Ideally, your son will tell you if he thinks he is being bullied or if other kids are being mean to him. Unfortunately, though, many children don’t communicate these feelings to their parents, which makes it more difficult for you to help them.

If you suspect your son might be the victim of bullying, first try asking him about it. Ask him what his most and least favorite parts of school or daycare are. If his least favorite parts include the social activities, like recess or lunch, ask him why he doesn’t like them. You might find your answer there.

If that approach doesn’t work, you can look for the following signs of difficulty:

  • tries to avoid school, daycare, or other social activities
  • won’t talk about friends 
  • sudden drop in grades
  • low energy or no motivation
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of interest in activities
  • rapid mood swings

If you notice your son is demonstrating any of these signs, speak to his teacher or daycare manager to see if he or she has noticed bullying or any other unusual behavior. Then you can work together to remedy the situation.

For more information on addressing bullying and fostering your child’s emotional and social well-being, see the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set, which addresses these concerns from birth through high school and beyond.