Watching your child being bullied is horrific. As a parent, your child’s suffering is your own and you would do anything to put a stop to it. But how? Read this blog to discover more. This topic is important because some kids get bullied because of the appearance of their teeth. At Riverstone Family Dental, we believe in boosting a child’s confidence through giving them the crucial skills to look after their teeth early on in life. Call us today: 8678 3538.
Types of Bullying
Bullying is an undesirable action whereby someone purposely and repeatedly inflicts humiliation, damage and discomfort to another person. In this case, the bullied child is usually unable to defend against such behaviour and did nothing to have caused the bullying. Bullying can be direct or indirect. Direct bullying occurs in the presence of the bullied person whereas indirect bullying is not directly targeted at the bullied victim, for example, spreading rumours.
These are the types of bullying:
- Physical bullying – hurting someone’s body or possessions
Examples include: tripping, pushing, spitting, hitting, kicking, pinching, rude hand gestures, and taking or damaging personal belongings.
- Verbal bullying – saying or writing mean things about someone
Examples include: teasing, taunting, inappropriate comments, name calling or threatening to cause harm.
- Relational or Social bullying – harming someone’s reputation or relationship
Examples include: spreading rumours, leaving someone out on purpose or telling other kids not to be friends with someone.
- Cyberbullying – using digital technologies to send hurtful texts, emails, posts, images or videos. Other examples include: excluding someone online, spreading online rumours or imitating others online.
Signs your child is being bullied
You may or may not know and be aware your child is being bullied until you start seeing signs. Not all bullied children exhibit warning signs but it is a good idea to take notice of these things:
- Unexplainable cuts, bruises or scratches
- Missing or broken toys or stationary
- Faking sickness
- Frequently ill
- Drastic change in eating habits
- Trouble sleeping or nightmares
- Not wanting to go to school
- Failing grades
- Losing friends or having no desire for social situations
- Loss of self esteem
- Running away
Teeth problems and bullying
Children with teeth problems can suffer through horrendous pain and shame. At times, this can act as a hindrance for them to succeed in school and enjoy having a typical childhood. According to a study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, teeth are the number one targeted physical feature which increase a child’s chance of being bullied. A child is more likely to be picked on because of his/her teeth than their strength and weight.
It is disturbing, heart-breaking, yet it is definitely preventable.
Caring for your child’s teeth
Teeth problems can be fixed through standard treatments such as fillings and cleans, orthodontics or occasionally surgery. But as they always say, prevention is better than cure. So it is best to start them early with good dental habits and have their first dental visit as early as the age of one. At Riverstone Family Dental, we use this visit to track and delve into oral hygiene, breathing and diet habits. At every 6 monthly checkup, we check for teeth that may be coming in crooked, narrow jaws, breathing issues, missing teeth, infections which can cause bad breath and decay which can result in dark-looking teeth. Parents, you can help prevent dental problems by monitoring your child’s oral habits.
Dr Zena’s Tips:
- Brush or observe the brushing of your child’s teeth twice a day for two minutes.
- Floss their teeth once a day.
- Avoid giving them soft drinks, fruit juice, cordial or sweets.
- Encourage them to eat a diet high in vegetables.
- Monitor how your child breathes – it should be through their nose during the day and night. If they snore or grind their teeth you need to see your GP to check for airway or allergy issues.
- Visit me (your dentist!) regularly, we must not allow your child’s teeth be a cause for bullying.
What you can do to help your child
It is the best thing to do after being aware of your child’s situation. Rather than being upset or angry, listen calmly, and offer full support and comfort.
Let your child know that he or she is not alone, and praise them for sharing this information. This allows them to know that sharing this information is a good thing and not feel ashamed.
Make it clear that they did not do anything wrong and reassure your child that you will solve the problem together.
Call for help
Advise someone in position at school about your child’s situation. One approach may be to notify the bully’s parents in a setting where a school official can be present.
Encourage your child to spend time with positive friends, organise extra-curricular activities that may help build self-esteem and courage.
Remove the bait
Bullies sometimes target children who own certain gadgets or have lunch money. If you find out this is the case with your child, try going gadget-free or bringing packed lunch to school.
Give your child some action steps that they can implement if bullied again, they may include:
- Hold the anger – try not to respond to the bully angry or upset. Instead, tell them to stop, count 1-10 and take five deep breaths. Act busy and uninterested.
- Walk away – if the bully continues, leave the environment.
- Use the buddy system – buddy up with a friend wherever the bully is around and offer to do the same for your friend.
- Tell someone – an adult such as your teacher can help you fix the situation when they are aware what is happening.
Keep communication consistent
Spend at least 15 minutes everyday talking to and reassuring your child. Start your conversation about everyday life and feelings like:
- Tell me some good things that happened today? follow up with positive comments
- Any bad things? follow up with comfort
- Did you enjoy lunch today? Who did you sit with?
Bullying is a wide topic and there is no “universal approach” on how to manage each and every situation. A case by case approach needs to be taken. In any case, if your child is being bullied at school they need to feel they can talk to you openly about it. Let us put a stop to bullying early on in life so that we prevent adult bullies and foster safe environments for all children.
I hope you found this blog helpful. If you need assistance with this topic, please contact us at [email protected] and we can put you in touch with the right people. Need a caring, family dentist? Riverstone Family Dental has you covered, call us today on 8678 3538.