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5 Effects of Bullying

According to a 2019 survey from the Centers for Disease Control, about 20% of children from grades 9 to 12 reported being bullied at school in the previous year. Bullying refers to repeated unwanted and aggressive behavior among children, primarily school-age, that involves a power imbalance. 

As your child’s pediatrician, Dr. Nazem Alzalam is trained to help identify the warning signs that your child is being bullied and provide advice to help them. Along with Dr. Alzalam, the rest of our team at Zalam Medical Center in Bridgeview, Illinois, believes bullying is one of the biggest concerns children face today. 

That’s why education on the signs and effects of bullying is so important. While bullying is associated with a number of adverse consequences, here are just a few of the most visible effects you might see in your child. 

Low self-esteem and increased anxiety

Bullying can cause a number of serious psychological effects on your child. For example, your child might develop low self-esteem, meaning they start to feel less confident or feel bad about themselves. Additionally, they may develop anxiety, particularly around attending school or participating in the activities where they encounter bullies. 

Returning to old childhood behaviors 

For many children, these psychological effects may also induce a number of physical changes or regressions, such as nail biting, bed wetting, or thumb sucking. If you notice your child is returning to behaviors they alreadyhad outgrown, it might be a sign they’re being bullied or otherwise under a lot of stress.

Stomachaches, headaches, and eczema

Stomachaches, headaches, and eczema may not appear to have a lot in common at first glance, but all are conditions that can be affected by the stress caused by bullying. If your child has an ongoing health condition that is affected by stress, such as eczema, you might notice worsening symptoms if they are being bullied.

Additionally, psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches might be caused by the stress of being bullied. Anxiety and stress can cause physiological symptoms such as nausea, stomachaches, lightheadedness, headaches, and more. This can lead children to miss school and fall behind in their classwork.  

Changes to eating habits 

One telltale effect of bullying is sudden changes in eating habits. Children might suddenly lose their appetite and struggle to finish their meals. On the other hand, children might also suddenly start sneaking snacks and desserts in order to cope with the difficult feelings caused by bullying. 

It’s important to discuss any sudden changes to your child’s appetite with Dr. Alzalam and our team. These could be signs of bullying, but they could also indicate an illness, infection, or other health condition. 

Poor academic performance

Bullied children experience a number of emotional, social, and physical effects, but perhaps the most frequent sign first noticed by parents is poor academic performance. A bullied child may no longer have the same attention span or interest in their schoolwork. Alternatively, some bullied children might be afraid to participate in classrooms with their bullies present.

If your child has suddenly started to perform poorly in their schoolwork, it might be worth having a gentle, open conversation with them about any other struggles and distractions they might be facing. When it comes to bullying, it can be hard to know how to spot the signs and talk about it with your children. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Alzalam knows how to talk to children and how to advise parents when dealing with potential bullying. If you’re worried about your child, book a pediatric checkup with Dr. Alzalam by calling our office at 708-599-8000 or requesting an appointment online.

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