Recognizing bullying and how to talk about it with your child

Back 2 School

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- As everyone gears up for school starting, healthcare professionals are urging parents to check in with their student’s mental health.

“They’re suddenly not wanting to go to school even though they were excited when the school year started.”

Dr. Carole Swiecicki from Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center recalls a scenario that could be a product of bullying.

If the behavior is abnormal and unexplained, other signs could include:

  • Nightmares
  • Anger
  • Withdrawal
  • Declining school performance
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Reluctance to talk

All of these symptoms could also be caused by a mental illness such as anxiety or depression; not bullying.

Dr. Ted Pappas from Roper St. Francis Physician Partners explains that those conditions are seen frequently these days.

“Mental health issues of course in this day and age are very important to be aware of,” says Dr. Pappas. “If somebody is not acting like themselves, or is down in the dumps or angry, and it’s not their nature, the parent should consider depression or other mental illnesses.”

The first step in tackling mental health is simply having an open conversation with the child. Dr. Swiewicki suggests asking the child about a positive aspect of their life first.

“It doesn’t need to be all about negative. Having some balance of saying ‘whats your favorite subject in school’ and ‘whats challenging about school’ whether it’s about classwork, or friends, or something else,” she says.

For the children that are shy or don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents directly, she also recommends using a therapist as an neutral listener that could help them open up.

For Dr. Swiewicki and her team of child advocates at Dee Norton, the mission is to “PREVENT abuse, PROTECT children, and HEAL families.”

Sometimes, simply communicating can help a child grow and keep them safe. For more tips on bullying and speaking with your child about tough topics, click here.

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