My Child is Bullied in School

By Greg Baer M.D.

January 16, 2023

Imagine that in a school classroom, only ONE student was bleeding from their nose onto their shirt and the floor. Everything in the room would stop until that student got help.

And yet, while a vast number of students are bleeding emotionally every day at school, mostly they are ignored. Who are these kids? They’re the children being bullied. How could this be?

Studies vary widely, but about 15% of high school students are regularly bullied, with a higher incidence in grades 4-8. ONE-THIRD of students absent from school on a given day—other than for clearly excusable reasons like a doctor’s appointment— are revealed to be avoiding bullying at school.

How do I know if my child is being bullied?

Most parents are not aware that their child is being bullied, because the child rarely reports it. We all have enough problems in life, so we don’t tend to seek them out.

But children must be carefully observed and questioned if we want to know if they’re being bullied. We cannot count on children self-reporting. We must ask questions:

  • Does your child miss school for minor aches or other unclear reasons?
  • When you ask, “How was school?” are the answers often vague?
  • Does your child avoid looking you in the eye when asked about school?
  • Do they vigorously oppose attending some extra-curricular activities?

These are possible indications of bullying, which means that you need to ask more questions. 

Look them in the eye, assure them that nobody is in trouble, and ask, “Does anybody at school:

  • Make fun of you?
  • Spread lies about you?
  • Push or hit you?
  • Take things from you?
  • Laugh at you?
  • Leave you out of games or other activities?
  • Yell at you?
  • Say unkind things about you on social media?

As much as you listen to the answers in words, pay attention to their posture, eyes, facial expressions, and hesitation in answering.

What is the effect of my child being bullied?

The dangers of being physically assaulted are obvious, but just as serious are the emotional effects of bullying, including—to name just a few—

  • anxiety, panic attacks, withdrawal into their room
  • difficulty sleeping
  • symptoms of ADHD
  • vague physical ailments
  • depression, cutting, suicidal thoughts
  • poor school performance

As stated by one expert, “Life is a living hell for the child being bullied.”

Bullying is an emotional assault, often causing a kind of PTSD that continues into adulthood, causing anxiety, depression, relationship problems, loss of focus and meaning, high blood pressure, headaches, irritability, and more.

Why is my child being bullied?

Until you can answer this question, you will not be able to help your child. And almost no experts can answer it. Instead we have school conferences or make anti-bullying laws, which make no meaningful, long-term difference.

We cannot understand bullying until we first understand that what we all need more than anything is to feel LOVED. As proven by many studies, love is THE ingredient necessary for happiness, and without it we’re in pain. We feel small and helpless, and we HATE that.

Eventually we erupt into anger—bullying being just one form—and then for a moment we feel less helpless. Bullies are in pain, and they torment others only to get a brief hit of power, which distracts them from their pain.

Your child is being bullied by a child who does not feel loved at home. Really, it’s that simple. The parents of the bully would immediately protest that they do love their child, but it’s not the kind of love that nourishes them and makes them whole.

What we all need as children is UNCONDITIONAL love, or Real Love®. Real Love is caring about another person without any thought for something in return. There is no disappointment or irritation. Bullies were not given that kind of love, nor were their parents.

Remember in your childhood how many times:

  • your parents or others rolled their eyes at your mistakes.
  • they criticized your performance, especially with a “tone.”
  • they told you they were disappointed in you—with their words, their facial expression.
  • you just needed to talk to someone, but there was no one there.

Every time we were not unconditionally loved—whether aggressively or by simple neglect—we FELT the message, “I don’t love you.” Really. It was like being poked with a sharp stick.

Early on, we put up with that, but eventually we cannot tolerate the pain of our parents’ disappointment and anger, so we WILL respond with behaviors to protect ourselves. Among those behaviors are anger and bullying.

Now we know why kids bully—power—but why do they pick on YOUR child? Because bullies are like sick, tired predators. In order to survive, they pick on prey that is even weaker—just like animals do in the wild.

And they look for some behavior in another child, like yours, that makes them different—that separates them from the herd. Perhaps your child is slower than average, or shorter, or new in school, or your family has a different skin color or culture.

Predators will use ANYTHING as a reason to prey on another child, but the most common reason is a lack of confidence. Bullies simply do not pick on children with healthy self-esteem and confidence. That would be too threatening for the bully.

And why would your child lack self-esteem? Because they lack that one essential ingredient for happiness we’ve been discussing: Real Love®.

To be plain: the most likely reason for your child being bullied is that they don’t feel sufficient Real Love from you. Who would have thought?

And yes, you’re doing your best, but your disappointment, irritation, and un-involvement with your child—which happen much more often than you might think—are crushing to your child’s sense of worth. Do not feel guilty here. You were not unconditionally loved either.

Take the first step right now. Say out loud these words: “The most likely reason my child is being bullied is MY disappointment, irritation, or lack of involvement, which prove that I simply don’t know how to love my child unconditionally.” 

Yes, ouch, but now we can talk about truly effective solutions.

What can I do to help my bullied child?

What you want right now is a list of five or six steps that will eliminate bullying, and uncounted magazine articles are happy to provide you with such steps. But they don’t work because they don’t address the lack of Real Love that is at the root of your child’s problem.

In the Ridiculously Effective Parenting Training, you will learn how you can completely eliminate disappointment and anger from your life, after which you can learn how to unconditionally love your children.

THAT is the solution to bullying, sometimes supplemented by taking some actions involving the bully and the school.

Your problems—and your child’s problems—were created over many years. How fortunate it is that solving these problems doesn’t have to take nearly that long.

Change takes focus and practice, but loving is certainly not more difficult than the way you and your child are living now, with all the fears and unhappiness tormenting both of you.

As you learn to be loving, you will feel so much happier yourself.

You will enjoy the privilege of watching your children naturally and freely acquire the self-worth and confidence that naturally repel bullies. 

You will experience the peace of a loving home, the confidence of a loving parent, and the joy of raising loving children.

What could possibly be better?

Want to learn more?

Eliminate, not just manage, the bullying.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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