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What can I do to support my teen who is being bullied?

As a parent, it is very difficult to see your teen go through the roughness of life. We automatically want to protect and stop any situations that may lead to your child getting hurt. The effects of bullying on a family are complex as they not only trigger immediate distress caused by the bullying itself but it can also create a profound impact on the teenager's mental well-being, self-esteem, and overall development. You might struggle with feeling helpless and frustrated, seeking ways to support your teen while advocating for changes. In this difficult process, the delicate balance between stepping in to defend your teen and allowing autonomy is very difficult to find, making it a heart-wrenching challenge.

teen bullying

Let me show you what tools you can teach your teen going through bullying.

Bullying is a very sensitive topic, as it is very complex. If your teen is currently experiencing bullying, your role as a parent is to take the reins and show your teen how they can gain control over the situation .

First, it is essential for you to understand that directly rescuing your teen will automatically put them in a victim position. Before directly rescuing, you are welcome to listen and support your teen.

Support from parents plays a pivotal role in a teenager's resilience against bullying. By offering a safe space for communication, parents help create a foundation for their teen to express their feelings and fears. This support fosters a sense of validation and emotional security, which can be key in reducing the negative effects of bullying on the teen's mental health. Additionally, parental involvement sends a powerful message to the teenager that they are not alone in facing adversity, reinforcing their self-worth and confidence.

Here are five tools for you to teach your teen:

1. Communicate and collaborate with educators and authorities present where the bullying is taking place to address the issue. It is important for you and your teen to know that trustworthy adults can be present if bullying happens. It is crucial for you and your teen to feel authorities are actively taking action to combat bullying and promote a healthier environment for their teen's well-being and personal growth.

2. Teach your teen the power of body language:

One of the most important tools you can teach your teen is to explain the power their body language has. Bullies thrive from seeing the bullied person express discomfort through words or body language. If your child communicates, through their body language, that they are not a victim by having a relaxed, carefree vibe, the bullies won't get what they seek. Practice with your teen a cool and calm body language: shoulders down, slow breathing, calm or collected facial expressions, relaxed mouth, relaxed eyebrows, and direct eye contact. It's important for your child to understand that the objective here is not to have a provocative or aggressive body language but rather an unbothered and careless one.

3. Teach your child the power of a sense of humour: Once the body language is on point, teach your teen to add a sense of humour to protect themselves. A sense of humour presents your child as having a strong sense of self, deterring bullies. Practice a few responses with your child, using a sense of humour:

"You are lame and dumb":

- "Oh, thank you for noticing that!"

- "Well, that's how it is I guess."

- "Yeah, welcome to my life."

- "Well, that sucks, hey."

4. Teach your child to build a support group to turn to:Having a support group to turn to is indispensable for individuals facing bullying. In the midst of adversity, having empathetic peers or teachers can provide a crucial lifeline. The collective strength of a support group doesn't only alleviate the isolating effects of bullying but also reinforces a sense of belonging and understanding. The feeling of being physically close to other individuals when being attacked by a bully can feel very secure. After using a sense of humour and body language, your teen can find support by connecting with bystanders. A support group can involve friends, teachers, or anyone your child feels comfortable around.

5. Explain to your teen the importance of not acting provocatively:

Some teens going through bullying feel a sense of losing control and may try to regain control by presenting as rebellious and provocative toward the bullies. Engaging in gossip, being passive-aggressive, or having rough or sarcastic responses can fuel more bullying. It's important for your teen to be aware of that.

With the five tools presented above, you and your teen are welcome to practice at home the adapted body language and sense of humour to make your teen feel empowered and capable.

You can do this!

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