“He’s pushing me!” said five-year-old Vihaan rushing to his mother at our building lobby.
The decibel at which he was crying made us presume he was pushed by an older kid until he pointed at two-year-old Anjan.
I was taken aback! Why couldn’t a five-year-old counter a child much younger than him?
“He’s bullied so much in the school bus that has lost all his courage,” explained his mother solemnly.
I could sense her worry. We all know that bullying is wrong and a bully takes to the habit due to many socio-psychological issues. But what about the ones who are bullied?
Let’s probe deeper through the following 9 points:
1) Low confidence
As the instance above, a bullied child loses his/her confidence. Vihaan would have been more confident against a two-year-old had he not been bullied in his school bus.
Bullied children tend to internalise their fears and therefore, lose self-belief. Parents should talk to their children and tell them that they are there for them. In fact, even if you require to intervene in school matters, you should not hesitate. A parent’s involvement can go a long way in instilling confidence in a child.
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2) Slow speech
“He used to be a bag of words till he started junior school. Now, he just doesn’t talk,” says Smita about her six-year-old.
I saw the kid playing around quite happily in his corner, but yes he wouldn’t come and talk to us. Not even acknowledge or greet me like before.
“I’ve put in an application in school to check the older boys during lunch time. They trouble him,” says Smita finally, after I probed.
Children who are bullied grow quiet and that hinders their speech. Parents need to strictly check this and approach the school if required. Agreed?
3) Seething anger
“I have a five-year-old patient who hurls things at me,” says Dr Thakrey, a Mumbai-based paediatrician.
“He has a lot of pent up anger against a lot of things. But mainly, it’s because he is bullied by a few older children in his society and he’s not strong enough to fight them,” the doctor adds.
It gets me thinking. Unable to fight for oneself can make a child angry. Even adults get angry when they can’t handle a situation so we cannot blame a child for anger, can we?
“We need to work on his morale and teach him some self defence techniques so that he can fight back and not misdirect his anger at other people,” Dr Thakrey concedes.
4) Loss of appetite
“It’s not fuss. Fuss I would know. It’s something else. Maybe his food is being snatched or something. Can I call you back?” says Dr Khurshid hurriedly addressing someone over the phone as I unsuccessfully try to look away.
My intrigue gets the better of me and I ask the doctor the concern. Since she is a child nutrition specialist, I have already guessed it’s something to do with a child.
“I can just tell you that bullying needs to be curbed. Little children lose appetite for days at a time if they are physically or emotionally bullied. How awful!”
With this she leaves the waiting room, leaving me and my barrage of thoughts to wait for my doctor.
Bullying leads to loss of appetite for the one bullied. What a sad revelation!
5) Dislike for school
“They start missing school without proper applications coming from their parents,” says Miss Padma. She’s a school principal who I happened to meet at our local cultural meet. I asked her about a few tell tale signs that a child is being bullied and this was her answer.
“We probe and try to control these situations at school but yes, dislike for school tops the list if the child is bullied there even once,” she concedes.
It’s important for us parents to know these signs. Don’t you agree?
6) Dislike for studies
Since I could not let the opportunity of socialising with a school principal go waste, I stuck around with Padma like a tick to a dog. I’m sure she was craving for some breathing space as I rattled on.
Anyway, she provided me lots of insight:
“Dislike for school is the first step. If we are unable to track down the bully (since bullied children are too scared to speak) and bullying continues, children start disliking the whole idea of studying.” With this sad disclosure, I thank and leave Padma alone.
Even if parents get a wee bit of an idea that their kids are being bullied, they should improve their communication pattern with them. Only parents can provide solace when school becomes fearful.
This is what Padma had to say and well, she’s given us a lot to think about, hasn’t she?
7) Sibling rivalry
“So you think you’re strong. Let me show you what I can do,” shrieks eight-year-old Nivedita at the top of her voice as she smacks her younger brother hard on his back. Their mother cajoles the younger one as she lets Nivedita cool down a little.
Later, she explains that Nivedita was being regularly bullied in school the whole of last year and was unable to fight it out. Since things got out of hand, her parents intervened and sorted the situation for her.
Sadly, she has now started believing she’s not strong enough and thus, tries to test her strength on her five-year-old sibling.
“We’re trying hard to tell her that not being able to resist getting bullied does not reflect on your strength. But I guess it will take time and the younger one will get bullied till then,” adds Nivedita’s mom softly and sadly.
8) Too much TV
Well, if you think that addiction to TV is a normal thing for children and has nothing to do with bullying; you might be shocked to know what Dr Thakrey says about this.
“A bullied child is always looking for comfort and that’s when TV comes to his/her aid. Bullied children do not watch programs that are their age. They start sneaking around after a point, when they hit boredom watching their same old programs. The TV becomes their guide.”
He adds that trying to be calm with such children and slowly easing them out of their habit is the way out. That’s a lot of food for thought. Isn’t it?
“You tell her that her lines are not straight in her notebook and she’ll start crying. She cries at everything these days,” says Jwala, sounding very exasperated.
I ask her what is different about ‘these days’ in particular and she says that they recently found out that their daughter was being bullied at school. “She’s barely six! I don’t understand why teasing is even allowed,” asks Jwala.
She’s asked a valid question, but none of us have the answer. Do we?
Do you think bullied children get affected harmfully? Share your views with us in the ‘Comments’ section below.