Keeping your ADHD child safe from bullies
Children can be cruel, particularly to each other and especially during adolescence. The key to surviving the teen years unscathed is: Don’t stand out. Anything that makes teens different makes them an easy target for bullying—or even being a bully themselves.
Prime targets for bullies are kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And these very same kids can also become bullies.
Since parents of kids with ADHD can’t always be there to protect them, it’s important that they learn tips to keep their kids safe—and identify when that child has become a bully, so they can stop the behavior.
When A Child With ADHD Is Being Bullied
A few characteristics of kids with ADHD put them at greater risk of being bullied. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, they have:
- Trouble paying attention
- Difficulty staying focused
- Impulsive tendencies
These characteristics can mean a child may talk non-stop, make inappropriate comments or interrupt others.
This behavior makes socializing with other kids difficult and can invite unwanted attention from a bully, such as name calling, teasing or fights.
How To Keep A Child Safe From Bullies
The best way for parents to protect their children from bullies is to give them tools to protect themselves.
It’s important for parents to first talk with their children about the bullying. Explain that they are not at fault and they don’t have to play the role of victim, recommends National Resource Center for ADHD.
That means they can’t ignore the bully, since it’s likely the bully won’t just go away. Body language that displays personal power is key here.
This may take practice, but if it’s perfected, it goes a long way toward a child’s self-esteem.
If the bullying still continues, the school may need to be involved. Parents should meet with the teachers and principal to explain how the bullying affects their child and ask what can be done, says Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center.
Also ask for a written copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy.
If there is still no resolution, the Center recommends reaching out to the school district’s superintendent to discuss ways to get the bullying situation resolved.
How A Child With ADHD Can Become The Bully
Children who have been bullied often feel powerless. They’re unable to manage frustration with their attention issues, their inability to make friends or constantly getting picked on, reports the learning and attention resource site Understood.org.
In turn, they may lash out at others to regain power by becoming a bully. Or they may get perceived as a bully because their peers provoke them to act out, which gets them in trouble.
Stop Bullying Before It Gets Out Of Hand
No matter how the bullying behavior began, parents can step in to help manage the emotions behind the behavior to keep their kids safe—and their kids’ peers.
Here are steps Understood.org recommends:
- Explain that bullying is unacceptable and anti-bullying rules are in place for a reason.
- Follow through with consequences for their behavior (e.g., apologizing, losing certain privileges).
- Monitor behavior socially and online and nip bullying behavior in the bud.
- Get the school involved, stressing that the behavior will not be tolerated there and will have consequences.
- Praise positive behavior when emotions are being managed.
Whether a child with ADHD is bullied or shows signs of bullying behavior, keeping them and other students safe is the main concern.