Beat Bullying Blues With These Tips

As long as there have been people, there has been bullying. But just like our other methods of social communication change over time, bullying has evolved to meet today’s needs—moving today’s bully off the playground and onto your child’s smartphone. Many parents find themselves seeking a teenage psychologist to help their child work through bullying issues. No matter what sort of bullying your child is facing, these expert tips can help!
Teasing vs. Bullying
One of the most important things to help young children understand is the difference between teasing (which can be fun, cruel, or somewhere in-between) and bullying. Bullying is a pattern of repeated behavior that puts one person below the other. On the other hand, best friends who tease each other equally about silly comments, questionable fashion, or daily events are usually exploring the healthy boundaries of a relationship. Help your child by asking questions such as “were you laughing when your friend was teasing you, or did it really hurt your feelings?” or “does your friend let you tease him that way?” Keep in mind that bullying is not always active; excluding and shunning others, such as today’s “cancel culture” is devastating for social wellness.
The Bystander Effect
Repeated research has shown that, while kids can stand up for themselves and be assertive to bullies, it doesn’t always work. In fact, even a well-planned, assertive request to stop bullying may cause more bullying! What works better is to turn the social situation against the bully. When a bystander intervenes, including the bully victim’s friends or even uninvolved peers, the bullying is less likely to occur. Bullies “feed” off of the victim’s fear, but also “feed” on the attention they get from others. If they get the message that their “cool” classmates think they are “uncool” because they are bullying, they are more likely to stop. Teach your child to stand up for others!
Don’t Feed the Trolls
Perhaps the most difficult tool to learn for fighting bullies, ignoring is often the best technique. No reaction = no fun, so the bully usually stops. However, your teen may not approve of this option—she doesn’t want to look weak or passive! Instead, try some distraction techniques. If a bully is criticizing your child’s clothing, instead of responding with frustration, encourage your child to give a compliment in return. So, the comment “your shirt is so stupid!” can be met with a simple “okay. I think your shirt is really cool. Where do you buy your clothes?” Most bullies will be so thrown by the unusual response that they will give up—eventually.
Stay Safe
For lower-level bullying, your child can arm herself with strong social skills and tools to cope, respond in ways that don’t increase the bullying, and seek the help of friends. A teenage psychologist or child psychologist in Littleton can help build advocacy skills. However, if your child is ever put in physical danger (hitting, choking, kicking), if he is feeling so harassed he is thinking about hurting himself or others, or if the bullying is sexual in nature, do not hesitate to get the proper authorities involved. This usually starts with the school and the other child’s parents. If you do not get a good response or feel your child continues to be in danger, you have the right to contact police for a more formal resolution—even if the bullying occurs in school.
Bullying isn’t just about playground fights. Help your child grow strong and confident to manage these challenges and feel respected, safe, and supported. For more help, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Steve Lazarus!