Being bullied is a serious matter, but it can be especially hard for teenagers to cope with. As a parent, it is hard to watch your child going through something so painful and upsetting.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to help your child deal with the situation.
Identifying the Signs of Bullying
The first step is to know the signs of bullying. Bullying is a purposeful, repetitive act. It is aimed at a specific person or group, over a period of time. With the ever-increasing use of technology, bullying no longer stops once children get home.
“In the past, you would be able to come home, close the door and have some respite from the bullying,” explains Susan Rowell, a psychology writer at Draftbeyond.com and Researchpapersuk.com. “Now, social networking sites and cell phones, mean that kids have no escape from it. Bullies can target their victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This often leads to widespread and long-lasting bullying.”
Your child might feel ashamed or worried about telling you they are being bullied, but there are some signs you can look out for. Are there any changes in their mood? Are they reluctant to go to school? Does their mood change after going online or checking their phone? Do they have unexplained injuries or bruises? Are they frequently unwell or having sleep problems? Have they started to do poorly at school?
What You Can Do When Your Teen is Being Bullied
Talk Openly With Your Child
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to reassure your child that it is not their fault and that you are there to help and support them. Start an open conversation with your child and listen carefully to what they have to say, how the bullying has made them feel and react. Let them know that they don’t have to go through the experience alone and that you will be there to support them whenever they need it.
Don’t Overreact or Take Over
It is natural to feel anxious and protective over your child, but overreacting or swooping in to fix things for them may actually make your child feel powerless. Instead, work with your child to come up with a plan together. This way, you will be helping them to develop skills and tools to help them cope with the situation in the future.
Create Strategies Together
Work together with your child to come up with strategies to handle the bullying. “Bullies are after a reaction. As hard as it is, simply ignoring the bully and walking away without showing fear or anger can be the most effective strategy when dealing with bullying,” suggests Debra Hankins, an educator at Lastminutewriting.com and Writinity.com.
You can also help your child to come up with some simple phrases or slogans, such as “Stop” or “I’ve had enough” that they can use to diffuse a situation and then walk away. Work together to find something which feels right for them. Remind them to avoid insulting or reacting to the bully as that will only cause the situation to escalate.
Another strategy is to use the buddy system. When your child is with another friend, they are less likely to find themselves isolated or targeted by bullies. You can also encourage your child to talk to an adult, such as a teacher or school guidance counselor when they are being bullied.
When To Take Further Action
If the situation continues to escalate and you need to take more official action, you should discuss it with your child and work with them so as not to make the situation worse. Listen to what your child says and thinks would be most helpful to them. Find out about the school’s anti-bullying policies and then contact the principal or year adviser. If the situation persists, consider contacting the authorities.
Bullying is never acceptable. By talking openly with your child and reassuring them that they are not alone, you can help them develop the skills and determination they need to confront and overcome it.