Teen Bullying: What you need to know
Kelsey, your daughter, has been acting differently. You notice that she looks sad every time she comes home from school, and dreads going in the morning. She has asked to change her hair, her clothes, her shoes. You’re concerned. I get it. It is possible that your little girl has become a victim of teen bullying. Someone at her school has taken advantage of this stage in her life. The stage where she is easily impressionable about things like her choices in style, music, or even her self-image. 1 in 7 students in grades K – 12 are either a bully or have been a victim of bullying. Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence in today’s schools. I want to share with you a few ways to understand how your child is feeling, how you can become a sounding board for them, and how you can help them overcome this phenomenon.
What bullying feels like to your teen
Surprisingly, teen bullying is not a topic that many teens want to talk about. Think about it, no one wants to share that they are being ridiculed by the popular girl in school. Besides that, we know that the teenage years are difficult for both parents and children, and at times, there is a significant riff in communication. In order to overcome this hurdle that many teens face, it is imperative to understand what they feel like in this situation. With a proper understanding of your child’s feelings toward this situation that they are facing, you will be able to empathize and assist your child through it. According to stopbullying.gov, bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. This also can transition to interactions on social media. It can be as simple as the “it” girl refusing to like a photo shared by your child, or your son discovering that his latest profile picture was shared in a group chat and made fun of. Being bullied creates a feeling of isolation and inadequacy. You may start to notice that your child avoids talking about school or makes it clear that they don’t want to go or will sometimes even stall their arrival. It is important to understand the thought process of your child so that you can help your child combat the negativity they are facing in their school. Knowing the things that make your child unique and sharing those things with them strategically will help balance out the negativity they hear from their peers.
What you need to know to help
It’s heartbreaking to discover that your child has become a victim of bullying. It can even make us feel upset and protective. The best way you can help is to observe, suggest and reach out.
If it appears as though your child is being bullied at school, be observant of their actions, both verbal and non-verbal. Are they seeming less passionate or excited about things they used to love? Are they all of a sudden asking or considering changing key characteristics about themselves? Are they making up excuses to skip certain classes or school altogether? These are important indicators that there is a possible bullying situation.
It appears that your child is a victim of teen bullying. As a parent, this can be upsetting, although you may want to jump in to and protect and correct, in order to establish trust with your child, you must be strategic. Consider asking your child about their day. Ask questions deeper than, “How was your day today?” Ask questions that require well thought-out answers. Also consider having these conversations while doing something you are sure your child enjoys which, in turn, will make them more comfortable and more open to sharing their view of the world with you. You may be surprised at how much they share with you. You can suggest concepts to your child that will remind them that they are exactly who they are supposed to be. You could also suggest books and movies that address what they are currently going through. With the information you discover from your child, you can then strategically share this information with an authority at your child’s school.
Your child has shared with you a few of the troubles they are having at school. Before deciding to take matters into your own hands, always consider your child. After your contact with school authority, how will the school day look for your child? Is it possible, that by sharing this information about your child, that the bullying intensifies? We want to avoid this at all costs. Consider asking your child if they would like to move to a different class. Also, consider sharing this information with the school authority as an anonymously and request they address the issue schoolwide.
As a parent, you can help. You can play a part in stopping teen bullying. For more information about teen bullying, you can also visit stopbullying.gov. Also, if you need help or a suicide resource, call 1-800-273-8255.