Bullying Starts Much Sooner Than Parents Think It Does

child being bullied

Once your little one has reached school-age, it officially means that you're no longer there to supervise every interaction with classmates or can chaperone them at each point in the day. That's a nightmare in its own way. And if you agonize over schoolyard bullies, it's about to get even worse. Because news flash, parents, the jerk on the playground isn't the only one you need to be worried about. Turns out, bullying, especially of overweight children, starts before kids even begin school.

According to a new study, published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, the idea that bullying is a school-age experience has been completely busted. In fact, in a sample of 1,327 children, where the average age was 6, the study authors discovered that obesity not only made a child more likely to be bullied, but also to be a bully themselves.


More from The Stir: Your Kid Is a Bully -- Now What?

So while you may start watching out for signs that your child is being bullied once they start school, it might actually be better to look for the giveaways much, much earlier. 

Understand their patterns and take notice if something immediately changes. If they seem withdrawn, drop a group of friends, or their typical behavior takes a sudden turn, it's time to reflect on possible causes.

There is no one perfect age or moment when bullying registers as an "appropriate" response in a child's mind. And there is no clear start time or age for the harassment to begin.

The fact is it can start at any age and in any environment.

More from The Stir: 11 Long-Term Effects of Childhood Bullying

This also means that if you were waiting for school to start or your child to reach a certain grade to have that conversation, don't. Have it early and make it clear. Explain to them what bullying looks like, what is an appropriate response, and make sure they understand that the behavior does not align with your family values.

That way, if they choose to participate in it, are witnesses to it, or are victims themselves, the bullying will be identified. And can ultimately be stopped sooner.

How do you talk to your child about bullying?


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