The Effect of Bullying on Child Development

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Bullying can have significant and long-lasting effects on a child’s development. It can impact your child’s emotional well-being and have serious effects on their social skills and academic performances.


What Are The Different Types of Childhood Bullying?

All types of bullying can have detrimental effects on an individual. The four most common types of bullying are cyber, verbal, physical and relational.



The Cyberbully uses technology to harass, threaten, and embarrass another person. The use of technology can provide a false sense of anonymity, and things can get ugly, especially without body language and expressions to provide context. Cyberbullying is one of the most common types of bullying.


Verbal Bullying

This is a form of in-person bullying. This includes negative commentary and humiliation of another individual. Verbal bullying is often used to assert control and power over a child. Verbal bullying can have devastating effects on a child's development. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and self-harm.


Relational Bullying

If you think about mean girls, you’re on the right track. Relational bullying is more prevalent among girls between the ages of 11 and 14 years. This is a subtler form of bullying and is also known as emotional or social bullying. Kids participating in this form of bullying are likely to spread rumours, manipulate and betray one another, to enhance their own social status through control. Children often use this bullying technique to establish popularity. It can also be due to acting out of jealousy, or the fear of not feeling included in a group.


Physical Bullying

Physical bullying is a way kids use their bodies to control others. This is the most obvious type of bullying since it involves hitting, kicking and punching.  This type of bullying can be addressed faster since it’s easier to spot and often visible and clear due to bruising.  Play fighting can be used to settle arguments and can be disguised as play. This often stems from an unaddressed issue. School professionals often find it difficult to distinguish between play fighting and physical bullying.


What Can I Do to Increase My Child’s Resistance to Bullying Effects?

  1.   Be a kind, warm, loving and caring parent. Kids who have kind and caring parents are less likely to experience the harmful consequences of bullying.
  2.   Create a positive home atmosphere. A family where, love, respect, empathy and friendship-building, can be a shield against the problems associated with bullying.
  3.   Encourage sibling connections. Teach your children to be respectful towards one another and how to deal constructively with conflict. As a parent, you can teach them the importance of being kind, compassionate and understanding with each other.
  4.   Be inclusive towards your child’s friends, by welcoming them into your home. A strong network of social support is a good resiliency factor for all problems, including bullying.
  5.   Keep open communication. Kids can be embarrassed or confused about being bullied. By reassuring your child that you’re available to talk, and by looking for opportunities to do that, you create a supportive environment. Listen respectfully even to their most trivial worries; that way they’ll trust you to take it seriously.
  6.   Get help. As with all other serious problems, if you’re concerned your child is being bullied, and your efforts don’t lead to change, think about getting professional help. The earlier you and your child get the help you need, the likelier you are to have a happy outcome.


What Can My Child Do to Avoid Being Bullied?

  1.   Building strong friendships and social networks will make them less vulnerable to bullies. A child without a friend is at a higher risk of being targeted by a bully.
  2.   An assertive pushback can sometimes affect the destructive behaviour of a bully. By encouraging assertiveness, they can stand up for themselves and the bully may even be surprised or shamed.
  3.   A funny remark can throw a bully off guard. By keeping a sense of humour a bully can be thrown off by a funny remark if your child can think of one on the spur of the moment. You and your child can role-play funny responses and coping strategies to help them cope with bullies’ nasty remarks and actions.
  4.   Sometimes the best answer is no answer at all. Teach your child when it is the right time to walk away. Bullies can be dangerous, and being picked on is not character-building. Let your child know it’s okay to turn away from or avoid a bully.
  5.   Tell an adult. Because of the power dynamic in bullying, there are many situations where kids can’t solve bullying problems on their own. If your child brings you a bullying story, listen thoughtfully. Don’t blame your child or do anything else to make them feel worse about themselves. Keep the emphasis on the bullying as a problem-solving challenge you’re handling together.


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