Bullying is common among school-aged children, even those in elementary school. When kids experience repeated, unwanted aggression from their classmates and peers, they can feel negative effects that follow them into adulthood.
You can help in several ways if you believe your child in elementary school is being bullied. Discover tips on how to deal with bullying in elementary school to help you encourage your child’s social and emotional development and help them truly enjoy learning.
How Common Is Bullying in Elementary School?
Bullying often begins in the lower grades when children notice each other’s differences. A survey of 20,000 students in the United States found that 22% of third-grade children reported being bullied two to three times a month or more, with fourth and fifth graders close behind at 20% and 17%, respectively.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 9% of elementary schools reported bullying occurring among their students. The largest percentage of children involved in bullying behavior are third graders — one in four children report bullying someone else, being bullied, or both.
Why Do Kids Bully?
The line between the bully and the victim is often blurred in elementary school. Young children make mistakes and are still learning to regulate their emotions and behaviors. Here are a few reasons why a child might bully:
- They want to fit in with their friends.
- They are a victim of bullying or aggressive behavior at home.
- They are naturally more assertive and don’t grasp the consequences of their actions.
If you believe your child is bullying others, take these actions to help them develop different behaviors:
- Communicate: Have an open and non-judgmental conversation about their behavior.
- Look inward: Children who behave aggressively at school might internalize similar actions they witness at home. Create a family atmosphere of kindness and respect.
- Monitor the situation: Communicate with your child’s teachers so you can monitor any problematic behaviors that reoccur and then help your child find a way to make it right with the others they bullied.
What Happens When Young Children Are Bullied?
Young children can internalize bullying and experience lasting consequences to their physical, social, and emotional health. Some of the effects of bullying include:
- Decreased self-esteem: When one child bullies another or socially isolates them, that child’s confidence can take a hit.
- Poor body image: Young children who are bullied for something they cannot change, like their hair, skin, or other physical characteristics, can internalize it as part of their self-image.
- Loss of identity: Targets of bullying may also experience a loss of self. Children could lose interest in the hobbies and activities they formerly enjoyed.
- Depression and anxiety: Another negative consequence of bullying is increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Experiencing repeated aggression can make children feel isolated, lonely, and powerless.
- Worsened school performance: Children who are bullied often see a decrease in academic achievement.
- Health concerns: Children who are victims of bullying are likely to see changes in eating patterns, like binge eating and skipping meals. Victims of bullying may also experience difficulty sleeping and trouble concentrating.
Children who are targets of bullying can have an inhibited ability to maintain healthy relationships, achieve a positive self-image, or pursue their chosen career later in life.
However, parents should understand the difference between teasing, mean behavior, and bullying before they intervene. Teasing is good-natured and a small part of a relationship. Mean or inconsiderate behavior and bullying define a relationship. While mean behavior may occur infrequently, bullying is repeated and continues even if one child asks the other to stop. Knowing the difference helps you get involved when necessary.
4 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
Younger children may not know the seriousness of bullying and may have difficulty communicating their feelings to you. It’s vital to pay close attention to your child to determine if they are being bullied. Here are a few red flags to watch for that are often associated with bullying:
1. Avoiding Social Situations
Bullying in elementary school usually occurs on school property, like in the playground, classroom, or cafeteria. If your child is anxious about going to school, they may be experiencing bullying. A child who is bullied might also try to avoid taking the bus, attending an after-school event, or going to school altogether.
2. Acting Out of the Ordinary
Acting differently than usual, like being moody or having a short temper, could be a sign of preoccupation with the bullying going on at school. A child who is bullied may also display feelings of hopelessness or lack of control.
3. Being Extra Emotional or Anxious
When bullying impacts a child’s confidence, it can lead to differences in behavior like being more emotional than usual or crying more. A victim of bullying might also be anxious, especially around their friends or other kids their age.
4. Having Difficulty With Normal Activities
Without realizing it, a child may exhibit signs of being bullied when they perform everyday activities, like eating and sleeping. Targets of bullying might lose their appetite or find it hard to sleep well at night.
What You Can Do if Your Child Is Being Bullied
Fortunately, as a parent, you can take several steps to help your child if they are being bullied. Responding quickly to bullying tells your child you care about them and shows them what they are experiencing is unacceptable. Help your child manage and recover from bullying with these strategies:
1. Start the Conversation (Gently)
The first thing to do if you suspect your child is being bullied is to open a conversation with them. When they feel calm, point out to them that you’ve noticed a change in their behavior. Ask them open-ended questions to hear their viewpoint.
2. Avoid Direct Confrontation
You might feel like the best action is to confront the bully or their parents. However, this resolution is primarily the school’s responsibility, not you or your child’s. Abusive behavior needs to be monitored and addressed by the school to make a lasting change.
3. Stay Connected to Your Child
If your child is experiencing bullying, they likely feel isolated from classmates and friends. Boost your child’s confidence by staying connected as you try to solve the bullying issue. Spend extra time with them and let them know you think they are special and fun to be around.
Also, pay close attention to your child’s behavior to catch any negative changes early. Young children may not be able to tell you everything they feel, so watch for body language and subtle signs.
4. Ask School Administrators to Help
Bullying is preventable behavior. How can bullying be prevented in elementary schools? It starts with parents and teachers who begin teaching acceptable behavior to children early in their schooling and refuse to make excuses for bullying.
If you want to know how to stop bullying in elementary school, speak with your child’s teacher or another school administrator. These professionals are trained to help resolve conflicts effectively.
5. Consider Switching Schools
Schools follow their anti-bullying policies with different degrees of strictness. This means that the thoroughness with which your child’s school responds to bullying depends on the school system.
Consider switching to a different school to remove your child from the situation. You could also transfer your child to a cyber school that provides a greater sense of safety than a brick-and-mortar school.
Learn How Commonwealth Charter Academy Deters Bullying
Bullying in elementary school can have lasting effects on a child’s self-esteem and performance in school. Luckily, bullying is preventable, and parents can do a great deal to help their children respond to and recover from instances of bullying in a healthy way.
Commonwealth Charter Academy, or CCA, is a cyber charter school serving families in Pennsylvania with a high-quality, standards-based education. CCA allows parents to control their child’s interactions with other students and complete their K-12 education from the safety of their home. CCA offers a safe haven for those who have experienced bullying.
CCA’s zero tolerance bullying policy teaches acceptable classroom behavior early on, requires a swift response to bullying behavior, and provides students and families with helpful resources for handling bullying. Request more information about CCA or begin the enrollment process today!