According to one of the publications from American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), bullying is defined as a form of aggressing that a child or more will repeatedly display towards another. A bully will intentionally intimidate, physically harm or harass another person, who is generally unable to defend themselves.
Many young people are experiencing some form of bullying by their peers and as nannies and professional childcare providers, it is our responsibility to be aware of the signs and to know how to take action.
You may have a gut feeling that something is just not right with your charges and your feelings will be confirmed if you observe any of the following signs of being bullied:
- Coming home with unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing or belongings
- Changes in eating habits
- Experiencing difficulty sleeping including nightmares
- Prone to show reluctance about school
- Declining in school participation/grades
- Avoiding social situations and fewer friends
- Lacking self-confidence and self-esteem
- Showing self-destructive behavior including running from home and self-harm
- Talking about suicide
- Showing actual signs of illness or faking it
Once you have observed signs of bullying, the first thing you need to do is to inform the parents. You can compile some information for them about bullying, how dangerous it is for young people, and some options for finding a swift solution. The articles we’ve linked here will show you that bullying can cause long-term emotional harm for children. Whether it’s physical, verbal or emotional doesn’t make a difference. It’s all equally harmful and can lead to anxiety, depression, loneliness, suicidal ideation and even symptoms of PTSD later in life. It is not to be taken lightly.
The truth about bullying is that there’s still a lot that we don’t understand when it comes to why kids become bullies, but we’re learning more and with this education comes new tactics for eliminating bullying.
Whenever you notice signs of bullying or your nanny charges come to you with concerns about peers, the first thing you need to do is listen without judgment. Don’t ask them how they upset the bully, instead ask clarifying questions about what happened, and how it made them feel. Brainstorm with them about how things could have gone better, for example, is there a friend that they can sit with at lunch to avoid the bully?
Once you and the parents have decided on a plan of action, be sure that reaching out to the leadership team at the school is a part of that plan. Inform the teachers and administrators and do not force a face-to-face confrontation between the bully and the bullied child. Most importantly, establish a safe place for your nanny charges at school.
Discuss with them if there is a trusted teacher or adult who can act as a lighthouse that they can go to when they are being mistreated, and then encourage a meeting between the parents and this trusted adult. Let the lighthouse know what is happening and that the bullied child would like to be able to approach them whenever they feel unsafe at school.
From there, you’ll want to encourage regular check-ins with both the parents, the teachers, the bullied child, and their lighthouse. You can guide your nanny family through this process by utilizing these tips in addition to the many more insights included in the links above. Keep in mind that counseling and therapy have been shown to be quite helpful for children on all sides of bullying, so be sure to share this option with the parents, depending on the severity of the situation. If there is ever any mention of self-imposed physical danger then the child needs to be seen by a medical professional immediately.
This is such a difficult topic and there is so much to learn about how we can best support our nanny kids through bullying, so we recommend checking out Stop Bullying regularly to stay aware of new discoveries.
Have any of your nanny charges ever been involved with bullying? How did you navigate that situation? We’d love to hear about your personal experiences.
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