Is Your Teen Being Bullied?


A Note From The L.A. Teen Therapist

A solid anti-bullying campaign starts in the home – with loving parents. – Sandra

“As a father, I will serve as the champion defender for my son. I do not want him to be the target of a bully’s reckless comments, but I cannot isolate him in a protective bubble. He will, one day, feel the sting of someone’s deliberate arrows of cruelty. And to prepare him, I will spend plenty of time coaching my son on how to neutralize the comments from an angry peer.” ~ Nick Vujicic

Many times a bully is seeking power. If they don’t receive a sense of having some legitimate power at home – because they are in an environment where they are constantly being told what to do, as well as how and when to do it – they may seek power outside the home which can present in the form of bullying.

I also think it is important for us to understand that kids who are bullied may be attracting the attention of the other kids in ways that make them feel uncomfortable. Perhaps they are smaller, acting in unusual ways, suffering from mental or emotional challenges, or lacking maturity and/or social skills. The bully then exploits these other kid’s discomfort by leading them to pick on the victim – or simply react out of their own discomfort.

We live in a world where differences in preference and opinion abound. Teaching your teen self-love and acceptance, and helping them to be comfortable in their own skin will enable them to respond in ways that will prevent the bullies from deriving the satisfaction they are seeking from their bullying behavior.

There are also ways to handle insults from bullies that can remove their sting. For example, if someone makes a mocking comment about one’s clothes, hair, accent or physical features, a simple response could be to say: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Thank you for sharing yours.” For the bully is seeking a particular response from their victim, and when they fail to get that response, the bullying stops being fun for them. Unless the bully is pathologically disturbed, simple techniques like using humor or walking away can resolve the situation.

Of course, physical violence must be dealt with through adult intervention, with the intention of creating a corrective experience (i.e., anger management classes for the bully and emotional support for the victim). However, I want to caution parents to not get caught up in rejecting attitudes toward bullies as this can create humiliation and shame, a contributing factor behind bullying behavior.

It is up to parents and teachers to truly listen, as well as keep the lines of communication open with the children in their care. It is essential that kids to realize that they do not have to handle being bullied – alone. Working together, we can find a way for victims and bullies alike, to safely get assistance.

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