Bullying is a serious issue that affects many teenagers, with approximately one-third of adolescents reporting bullying at some point.
It can cause long-lasting effects on a child’s mental health, confidence, and self-esteem.
As a parent, it’s essential to recognize the signs of bullying and support your child.
We spoke to a clinician at a teen mental health facility, Modern Recovery Services, to give us their insight. This article will discuss three parenting tips for assisting your bullied teen.
Recognizing the Signs of Bullying
Bullying is a serious issue that can have long-term effects on a teenager’s emotional and mental health. As a parent, it is important to be able to recognize the signs that your teen may be experiencing bullying. Here are some additional signs to watch for, beyond changes in behavior, mood, or academic performance:
- Physical Symptoms: If your teen comes home with unexplained bruises, scratches, or other injuries, it could be a sign that they are being physically bullied. Additionally, they may complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical discomforts that can be a result of the stress and anxiety caused by the bullying.
- Social Withdrawal: Teens who are being bullied may feel embarrassed or ashamed and may start to withdraw from social activities or avoid going to school altogether. They may also start to lose interest in activities or hobbies that they once enjoyed.
- Changes in Sleeping or Eating Habits: Bullying can cause significant stress and anxiety, leading to changes in sleeping or eating habits. Your teen may start to eat more or less than usual, have trouble sleeping or sleep too much, or have trouble falling asleep due to worry or fear.
- Unexplained or Missing Possessions: If your teen’s personal belongings start to go missing or are damaged, it could be a sign that they are being bullied. They may also come home with ripped or torn clothing or other personal items.
- Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is becoming more common among teens, and it can be difficult to detect. Signs of cyberbullying may include changes in your teen’s online behavior, such as spending more time online or avoiding social media altogether. They may also become anxious or upset after using their phone or computer..
Create an Open and Supportive Environment
The first step in helping your teen who is a victim of bullying is to create an open and supportive environment for them.
Let them know that you are there to listen and support them and that they can talk to you about anything.
Encourage open communication by setting aside time to speak with your child about their day and actively listen to what they or say.
It is also essential to validate your child’s feelings and let them know that what they are experiencing is not their fault.
Make it clear that bullying is unacceptable and that you will do everything you can to support them.
Remind your child that they are not alone and that resources are available to help them, including counseling for adolescents.
Seek Professional Support
Online counseling for adolescents can be a helpful resource for teens experiencing bullying.
A counselor can provide a safe and confidential space for your child to discuss their experiences and work through their emotions.
Counseling can also help your child develop coping strategies and build their self-esteem.
Many different types of counseling are available for adolescents, including individual, group, online, and family.
Individual counseling allows your child to work one-on-one with a counselor to address their specific needs and concerns.
Group counseling provides a supportive environment where your child can connect with other teens experiencing similar challenges.
Family therapy can help improve communication and strengthen family relationships.
When choosing a counselor, it is crucial to find someone who specializes in working with adolescents and has experience with bullying.
Look for someone compassionate, non-judgmental, and with a proven track record of helping teens overcome bullying.
Dealing with the School
Dealing with bullying can be challenging, and it’s important for parents to work closely with the school to address the issue. Here’s a unique solution that parents can use to address bullying in school:
Encourage the school to implement a bystander intervention program.
Bystander intervention programs are designed to empower students to speak out and intervene when they witness bullying or other harmful behavior. These programs can be highly effective in creating a positive and supportive school culture and can reduce the incidence of bullying.
If your child’s school does not have a bystander intervention program in place, consider suggesting it to the administration or working with other parents to advocate for its implementation.
There are a number of different bystander intervention programs that schools can use, such as “Steps to Respect” or “Bully Free Schools.” These programs teach students how to identify bullying, how to intervene safely and effectively, and how to support the target of the bullying.
They can also help students develop empathy and a sense of responsibility for creating a positive and respectful school environment.
Teach Coping Strategies
Finally, teaching your child coping strategies to help them deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with being bullied is essential.
Coping strategies can help your child feel more in control and empowered and can also help prevent the long-term effects of bullying.
Some effective coping strategies for bullied teens include:
- Building a solid support network of family, friends, and other trusted adults
- Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation
- Engaging in physical activity to reduce stress and improve mood
- Developing hobbies and interests that provide a sense of accomplishment and self-worth
- Setting goals and working towards them to build confidence and self-esteem
It is important to remind your child that they have the power to make positive changes in their life and that the actions of the bully do not define them.
Encourage your child to focus on their strengths and talents, and to celebrate their successes, no matter how small.
Parenting a bullied teen can be challenging, but by creating an open and supportive environment, seeking professional support, and teaching coping strategies, you can help your child overcome bullying and build resilience.
Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Stay patient, support, and seek resources and guidance when needed.
Together, you can help your child navigate this difficult time and become more substantial and confident.