Helping Learning Disability Kids Deal With Bullying
While bullying can be an issue for children in numerous different settings or life scenarios, the sad reality is that it's more common for children who deal with learning disabilities or related issues. And because it can be harder for kids in this position to understand why they're being bullied, or even to understand the bullying itself, it's important for parents and other caregivers to be cognizant of these risks.
At Learning Technics, we're proud to offer quality cognitive therapy and other programs for numerous learning disabilities and related issues, from ADHD to auditory processing disorders, dyslexia and more. Here's a primer on the kinds of bullying that can take place, some of the signs that your child might be dealing with bullying, and what parents of children with learning disabilities can do to help their kids work through these situations and not be overwhelmed by them.
Kinds of Bullying
While these can be further split into sub-categories if you so desire, there are generally considered to be four broad types of bullying found in kids today:
- Physical bullying: One of the most well-known and potentially harmful kinds of bullying, physical bullying involves hitting, kicking, pushing and other physically aggressive behavior. The bully, or bullies, might also steal or take away things from the victim.
- Verbal bullying: Verbal bullying can include calling names, threatening, making fun of and spreading rumors about a child. It might also involve using put-downs, making threats or mocking victims' race or other characteristics that are not considered acceptable to target and pick on.
- Relational bullying: Also called social bullying, this type of bullying doesn't necessarily involve hurting another child with words or actions - but it does involve purposefully breaking up friendships, isolating children from others, and manipulating situations so that a victim is in the spotlight.
- Cyberbullying: This kind of bullying takes place using technology like email and cell phones, often involving threats or harassment being communicated using technology. This can have additional repercussions for victims, like fear of using computers and other devices because they're afraid that they might be used to bully them again.
In addition, it's important to note that bullying may be seen in both direct and indirect ways - and that as a parent, you should be on the lookout for both kinds. Direct forms of bullying are those that occur in the presence of the victim, where words or actions are directed at them and make them feel threatened. Indirect forms of bullying, on the other hand, refer to things like rumors, lack of inclusion, and other behaviors that put a child in the spotlight and make them feel unwelcome, but don't involve direct action.
Signs of Bullying
If you start to suspect that your child is dealing with bullying, it's important to watch for certain signs that might indicate this is indeed occurring. These include:
- Finding reasons not to go to school: One of the most common signs that a child is dealing with bullying is finding reasons to skip school, or being sick during the day. This doesn't mean that your child has suddenly developed numerous health issues - it's more likely that they aren't feeling safe at school and don't want to go there. Keep an eye out for other signs of anxiety, like stomachaches and headaches, to confirm your suspicions.
- Being aggressive and over-reacting: If your child is normally calm or level-headed, but becomes overly angry or hyperactive in response to a single event - consider the likelihood that it may have been triggered by bullying.
- Declining grades or loss of school interest: If your child typically loves school and is a good student, but suddenly starts to fail more courses or seems disinterested in the learning process, this could indicate that they're having trouble concentrating because of bullying.
- Unexplained injuries: If your child comes home with a bruise or small cut, you should be aware that this could be the result of bullying.
- Irritability and mood swings: If your normally well-adjusted kid starts to act strangely or show sudden changes in temperament, consider whether something is bothering them at school.
These are just some signs that your child may be struggling with bullying - and while they might not all be clear indicators, it's important to keep an eye out for them.
Tips For Dealing With Bullying
As a parent of any child dealing with bullying, but particularly children who manage learning disabilities and other developmental issues, it's important to take the right kind of action so that your child feels safe and secure. Some tips include:
- Reporting bullying to school officials: If you suspect that your child is dealing with bullying in school, report the incident(s) to teachers or other adults immediately. This will allow them to intervene and protect your child, and potentially prevent the bullying from continuing.
- Providing emotional support: It's important to let your child know that they can come to you with their feelings, and don't have to deal with it alone. Make sure they feel comfortable speaking with you about what they're experiencing, so that they know it's okay to come forward if something is bothering them.
- Making sure you're available for your child: It's also crucial that you spend time with your child and aren't too busy to pay attention to their needs. This will help ensure they know that you care, and are willing to listen if they have something important to say.
Additionally, it's important that bullying be treated as a serious issue, and not just dismissed as a sign of typical childhood behavior. This will help ensure that your child can feel safe in school and is able to focus on their studies.
For more on how to approach situations of bullying with children who deal with learning disabilities, or to learn about any of our cognitive therapy or related treatment programs, speak to our caring staff at Learning Technics today.