Is Your Anxious, Angry Kid Being Bullied?

Bullying in schools is common, and you may even be asking your children about it a lot. But what if your child won't tell you that they're being bullied?

Recently I collaborated on a Romper article, 7 Subtle Ways Your Kid Is Trying to Tell You They're Being Bullied. I find with younger kids especially that it's difficult for them to tell their parents outright that they're being bullied. While a lot of kids in class might say, "so and so is bullying me" or "stop being a bully!" they are usually talking about kids being rude or annoying. For children who are truly being bullied, meaning repeated physical, verbal, or emotional attacks, it's often very uncomfortable for them to acknowledge what's going on.

What does this look like?

Children may start closing in on themselves more, may be hesitant to answer questions about how school is, and may start reporting headaches/stomachaches at the start of the day without a medical reason. They may also tell their parents that they hate school or don't want to go anymore but are unwilling or unable to go into more detail about why.

Parents should always be on the lookout for any sudden changes in behavior or regression, especially with previously established routines like bed time or using the toilet appropriately.

Anxiety and anger management impact this.

Your child may also be expressing that they're being bullied, or at least are being targeted in some way, through both their actions and their emotions. So your child may feel more nervous at the start of the school day, increase their clinging behaviors, or ask to stay home. 

Your child may also become more angry and aggressive with peers, or even with you. This is an offshoot of their anxiety. 

Stressed out little bodies are tense.

Their muscles are ready to go, their breathing is fast, their heart may be pounding when anxious. 

Now add being bullied to that equation. Muscles become more tense, breathing is faster, heart rate increases. Their brains have three options at this point: fight, flight, or freeze. For kids with anxiety, they'll either be ready to run away or to get into a fight.

As this keeps happening, your child may be labeled as "angry."

But as a parent, it's up to you to pick up on these potential clues that there's really something else going on, underneath it all.

If you're worried your child is being bullied, or you feel that their may be something else going on underneath their anxiety, contact Kelsey at compassionatecounselingstl@gmail.com. Kelsey specializes in anxiety and anger management for kids and teens ages 4-college. Her office, Compassionate Counseling St. Louis services clients in Webster Groves, Kirkwood, Town and Country, Brentwood, and surrounding areas.