The stress resulting from chronic bullying, teasing, harassment and social cruelty can change a child's behavior and even damage their brain!
A certain degree of stress is unavoidable in daily life, and can even be beneficial in helping a child develop resiliency and good coping mechanisms.
However, extreme or prolonged stress (like the kind that comes from being bullied) has profoundly negative effects.
Bullying causes both ‘external’ stress (being assaulted, embarrassed, shunned by peers) and ‘internal’ stress (anxiety, fatigue, etc. ). Each incident is a micro-trauma; each micro-trauma causes the release of powerful hormones into the blood stream. Respiration, heart rate and blood pressure spike and stay elevated until the body's ‘calming’ mechanisms can restore balance some time later.
(The sympathetic nervous system switches on the fight of flight response - the parasympathetic nervous system regulates the relaxation response. )
Depending on a child's age, developmental level and experience, they may respond to extreme stress by:
* having aggressive or defensive outbursts
* throwing tantrums
* crying without reason
* getting clingy
* developing headaches, stomach aches or other physical symptoms
* escaping into sleep / being unable to sleep
* becoming depressed
* avoiding social situations / withdrawal
* twisting/chewing hair, nail biting, thumb sucking
* eating too much or too little
Scientific researchers have linked excessive stress to weakened immune systems, skin conditions, memory problems, digestive issues and even shrinkage of the hippocampus (Gunner & Barr 1988, Lombroso & Sapolsky 1998).
Stress can either be acute (sudden onset) or chronic (long term). One of the insidious characteristics of bullying is that victims experience both ends of the spectrum. They are subjected to the ‘instant panic’ each time they are targeted, and they also develop anxiety about the next incident even when no danger is present.
Stress is experienced in 4 stages:
1. Alarm - shock and startle reaction
2. Evaluation- trying to understand what's happening, getting meaning
3. Searching for Coping Strategies - ways to adapt, deal
4. Action - putting the plan into motion
A kid who regularly has to deal with bullies develops toxic attitudes and emotions such as: self-pity, guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, anger, helplessness, negativity, alienation and depression.
An adult can help a child deal with the stress of being bullied with the following formula:
Help them anticipate the next possible event so they aren't caught off guard
Provide a supportive environment
Help them recognize, name and appropriately express their feelings
Teach them techniques to calm and comfort themselves
Create an action plan, rehearse it, and implement it
Teaching a child how to manage their emotions and providing simple strategies to deal with bullies will improve their health as well as their quality of life.
Avoid the following mistakes:
* Ignoring / Minimizing the problem ("its just a phase", you're being too sensitive")
* Offering Bad Advice/ Reciting Cliches ("just ignore them", have a snappy comeback")
* Expecting Someone Else Will Fix the Situation ("its the responsibility of the schools, or the police")
The Total Bully Solution is an easy to follow blueprint that provides practical strategies and effective techniques that work in the real world. Teach your child how to successfully overcome everything from teasing to physical confrontations.
Instantly download your Free Report here.