5 Things Teens Wish Parents Knew About Bullying

Understanding bullying from a teen’s perspective


Being a teen isn’t easy on a good day, but throw bullying into the mix and it becomes even more of a challenge.  But parents don’t always realize just how challenging bullying can be. Here are the top five things teens wish parents new about bullying.

“Dealing with bullying is harder than you think.”

It is common for parents to think standing up to bullying shouldn’t be that hard. In fact, in theory telling someone to stop or walking away seems like a simple enough solution to put an end to bullying.

But confrontation is not easy for teens. They are unfamiliar with how to navigate the challenges bullying presents and may not necessarily feel confident in asserting themselves.

Remember, it may take a few tries for your teen to confront a bullying situation. As a result, it’s important to be patient. Try not to nag or get frustrated. Likewise, don’t rush in and try to fix things. Instead, allow your teen some space and lend support where needed. You just need to be sure that the bullying is addressed and that your child is safe.

“A lot has changed since you were in school.”

While it is true every parent was a teenager once, it is a mistake to assume that your teen’s circumstances are the same as yours were. For instance, new technologies like Facebook, Instagram and Shots have added a layer of complication to teen relationships.

What’s more, cyberbullying lasts much longer than traditional name-calling and the reach is so much further.

As a result, more people can weigh in on the issue and bully your child even more.

So instead of assuming that your child is dealing with same issues you did, talk to him about what is different. Also, learn as much as you can about the types of bullying your child is facing. And stay abreast of the ways in which teens use technology to bully one another.

“Being rejected is really painful.”

It should come as no surprise that teens really care what their friends think. At this age, friendships and acceptance are at the core of who they are. As result, when a teen is ostracized or socially rejected it is extremely painful. In fact, two researchers at UCLA discovered that social rejection registers as bodily injury or pain in the brain.

As strange as this sounds, being rejected is much worse than being punched in the face. So be patient with your teen’s obsession over friends. Instead, take the time to guide them in developing healthy friendships. Help them identify if their friend is really a bully. And teach them how to set boundaries with friends who do not have their best interest in mind.

It’s also a good idea to discuss perils of peer pressure and remind them that popularity has some challenges. Make sure they also learn how to develop social skills, assertiveness and empathy. All of these things will help build a solid self-esteem and teach your child how to be a better person and a better friend.

Talking about bullying is embarrassing.”

Bullying can make teens feel powerless or weak. As a result, they may suffer from embarrassment, shame and humiliation, especially if they are being bullied because of something that they are already sensitive about like their appearance, their weight or their relationships.

This embarrassment also can keep them from talking about the bullying to others. To do so would require them to highlight their “defect.” And, for some, the thought of bringing their “defect” to light is worse than the bullying itself. For this reason, parents need to be able to identify the warning signs of bullying and ask open-ended questions. You never want to assume that your teen will tell you that he is being bullied.

“Don’t try to fix everything for me.”

During the teen years, young people are trying to assert their independence and make their own decisions. They are learning what life will be like when they leave the nest. As a result, when bullying occurs, the last thing they want is for Mom or Dad to rush in and fix everything.

It boosts their sense of self-confidence to be able to solve the problem. So instead of trying to fix things for them, brainstorm with your child on how to address the bullying. Doing so communicates that you trust their decision-making ability and shows them how to solve problems. 

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