Does Your ADD/ADHD child deal with bullying? Do they seem to draw the attention of bullies?
Impulsive or inappropriate behavior, an inability to stay focused, and social withdrawal can easily make a child a targeted victim.
How Bullies Operate
Academic success is difficult enough with the inherent challenges associated with ADD/ADHD. Bullying only magnifies the problem by adding another level of unnecessary stress to the child.
Bullies tend to hone in on areas of weakness, expose them, then exploit them. Children with ADD/ADHD are well aware of their struggles. Bullying makes these struggles a source of shame and embarrassment.
Bullying in adolescence is said to contribute to lifelong problems such as higher levels of C-Reactive Protein (a chronic inflammation which may promote cardiovascular disease and stroke. ), depression, and anxiety. In short, the psychological impact is real, and the consequences of bullying go far beyond just the classroom.
Helping your child navigate the issue of bullying is never an easy task, but there are things you can do to support your child.
Talk to Your Child About Bullies
Children are intuitive and resilient, and they understand more than we give them credit for. They may not understand all of the complex psychological insecurities that lead to bullying. But a child – even one with ADD/ADHD – can understand and empathize with “people who are hurt, hurt other people.”
Giving your child a context outside of himself with which to try and understand their bully may make bullying incidents less personal for them. In addition, this teaches empathy on the part of the victim, which may in some cases help to dissuade the bully.
Tell The Teachers What Is Going on
Teachers often times do not know that bullying is taking place, especially if it’s cyber bullying. Many times, intervention on the part of the teacher is seen by the bully as a reason to lash out at the victim even more. In essence, “tattling” can be fuel to the bully’s fire. When this is the case, there is not much a teacher can do. But they can at least be aware of the problem for your ADD/ADHD child, and try to make accommodations when appropriate.
Still, letting your child know that they have a safe person – like a teacher – at the school to go to makes them feel like they have someone in their corner. They have a safe place to discuss their problems and to decompress. And a teacher can help to coach the victim through their bullying incidents as well.
Consider the Extreme
The long term consequences of bullying are far reaching. Leaving children vulnerable to bullying does not “toughen them up”. Research shows that it creates a crippling psychological weakness that lasts well into adulthood.
If you don’t get a helpful response from the teacher, elevate your concerns to the school’s personnel until you have the attention of someone who can make sure you are heard. Make sure that you document all communication.
If too much time passes and your child continues to struggle under the weight of both bullying and ADD/ADHD and they are not getting the help and support that they need, you may consider switching schools.
Look into charter schools, another public school, private school, or homeschool. Resources are available for locating schooling options, and it’s just a matter of finding what’s available in your area.
ADD/ADHD children are especially vulnerable in both their academic struggles and in social situations. Talk to your child regularly and watch for signs that they may be dealing with a bully. Help give them resources to handle the situations the best they can. If they can’t, it’s worth looking into other schooling options.