9 Destructive Habits That Make a Teen Vulnerable to Bullying

Look for these habits in your teen and help her change

girl with hands to her face

Every day teens are confronted with negative messages. They hear things like "you're not good enough" and "you can't do this.” But what happens when they are saying those same things to themselves?

If your teen routinely underestimates her talents and skills, then she will quickly become her own worst enemy. What’s more others, specifically bullies, begin to zero in on this negativity too. And if your teen keeps it up, she may find herself a victim of bullying, cyberbullying or relational aggression.

Do you see these nine destructive habits in your teen?

1. Your teen does not believe in herself. Positive self-talk is a strong force. But so is negative self-talk. If your teen regularly tells herself, “I can never get an A in this class,” or “I am not ready to make varsity,” or “I will never get the lead in the play,” others may begin to echo these sentiments as well. What’s more, if your teen regularly squashes her own dreams, she will never reach her full potential.

2. Your teen does not embrace who she is. If your teen believes that what she has to offer is insignificant or that she needs to copy someone else's style or way of doing things, this is a problem. Empower your teen to embrace the things that make her unique. Encourage her to just be herself.

3. Your teen cares too much about what other people think. Wanting to be liked is normal. But when your teen values other people's opinions over her own, that is not healthy.

It is especially an issue if she gives in to peer pressure and changes her behavior to reflect what she thinks others expect. Remind your teen to never give up ownership over her life.

4. Your teen compares herself with others. Teens especially fall into the comparison trap when they are on social media.

What they often forget is that they are comparing their entire life with someone else’s highlight reel. People typically only post the things that make them look good on social media. As result, they are going to look good. Be sure your teen knows this. Instead, help her develop a heart of gratitude. Doing so will help ward off any feelings of envy, jealousy and insecurity.

5. Your teen has unhealthy friendships. Whether the friend is a frenemy, a toxic friend or a fake friend, if these types of people surround your teen, this can be destructive. Instead, encourage your teen to seek our healthy friendships and to surround herself with positive people.

6. Your teen engages in negative thinking. If you catch your teen saying things like “I do not have a chance” or “No one will ever invite me to prom,” put an end to it right away. Negative thinking, along with victim thinking, is extremely destructive. Encourage your teen to focus on the positives in her life. It also may be helpful to work with her on problem-solving in areas that are particularly challenging.

7. Your teen criticizes herself. While it is important to be able to identify weaknesses, if your teen is relentless in her evaluation of herself, this is destructive. Be sure to help your teen build a healthy self-esteem. Also, encourage her to treat herself with the same respect and kindness that she shows others.

8. Your teen does not trust her gut. Watch out if your teen constantly second-guesses her decisions. While it is important to challenge her instincts from time to time, if she regularly doubts herself, or worse yet, cannot make a decision, this makes her susceptible to mean girls and bullies. Many times, they will exert peer pressure and rather than trust her gut, your teen will cave and do something she knows she shouldn’t.

9. Your teen does not speak up. Being able to defend against a bully or stand up to a bully, are essential in bullying prevention. If your teen regularly stops herself from saying what she wants to or doesn’t ask for what she needs, then people will take advantage of her. Be sure your teen knows how to be assertive, can set boundaries and speak what is on her mind.

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