If your child is feeling anxious, depressed or withdrawn, do not pass it off as “teen syndrome.” These warning signs may indicate serious physical, emotional, or psychological distress. Pay attention to a change in your child’s behavior, and take immediate action if you suspect he or she is a victim of bullying. I’m not a medical doctor, and my advice should not be substituted for medical consultation. If you suspect that your child is being bullied, seek immediate professional help. Here are several ways to detect that your child may be experiencing bullying:

If your once outgoing child is now retreating to his or her bedroom in silence, it may be an indicator that something is bothering him or her. Is the child whispered about daily by a group of students in the classroom? Is the child laughed at every day? Ask what’s going on at school, and online, and make sure bullies aren’t at the root of the child’s withdrawal.

Loss of appetite
Have you recently caught your child skimping on meals or skipping them altogether? Chronic stress levels can lead to increased bursts of cortisol, the stress hormone, which may cause a decreased appetite. Next time your child leaves her plate untouched, question if she is stressed about bullies.

Emotional outbursts
Your child is slamming doors, crying for no reason, and snapping at her siblings. Before you brush off the child’s moodiness as a teen tantrum, investigate further. If she doesn’t want to talk, have her write down the things that bother her, and remind her that you will always give her advice to solve those problems. If she lists bullying as a concern, make an appointment to speak to her teacher.

Available information suggests that most students who skip school daily do so because they fear bullies. If your child is cutting class, talk with his teacher. Is he a classic case of senioritis, or is he afraid of bullies in the locker room?

“How many times have I told you to take out the trash?” “Do you hear me?” “I’m not going to tell you again.” Sound familiar? If your child is no longer hearing you, maybe it is because he is preoccupied by bullies. The next time you are tempted to fuss, stop, take a deep breath, and ask what’s really going on.

Falling grades
Your child has always breezed through English, but now the child is nearly failing. If your once straight-A child is now bringing home Cs, maybe it’s not the workload that is too difficult. If the schoolwork is not a problem, probe further. Suggest she speak with a guidance counselor to talk about things that bother her — like bullies.

According to a 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal, adolescents who were bullied in their early years are up to three times more likely to harm themselves than their peers. Do not underestimate how bullying may affect your child. If your child is harming himself or having suicidal thoughts, seek immediate help from a mental health professional. You may also seek help by calling KUTH FOUNDATION on 0803 663 3717.

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