As a parent, you probably know that your kid is a little different. Maybe she has unique interests, has a hard time fitting into school, or spends a lot of time alone. That doesn’t bother you at all, but the other kids at school have recognized her differences too and have begun to tease her. You know, from experiencing it yourself or seeing others experience it growing up, how much bullying can suck. Bullying can significantly impact how your teen perceives herself, lower her self-esteem, and make her want to change the things that make her unique. It can have long-term impacts on your daughter. So how can you, as a parent, help her deal with bullying in school that she is experiencing? When is it time to step in?
Learn the Situation
The first step of knowing when to step is in learning the full story. What happened in the teasing situation? Who was involved? How long has it been going on for? If you learn that it was a one-time situation, lean toward helping her cope when someone teases her in one instance. If you discover that the bullying has been ongoing, it may be time to step in. Contact the school to see if her teachers or any administrators know about the situation. Try to learn all sides of the situation to ensure that you have the fullest knowledge to choose your next step forward. Communication with your teen and the school will be key.
Support Your Teen
Regardless of the consistency of the teasing or the severity of the bully’s words, it is likely that your teen feels hurt and confused because of the situation. Listen to her, let her vent and share her experience, and respond appropriately. Empathize with her and validate her feelings. Let her know that bullying is not okay, and that you will work with her to navigate the situation and protect her mental health. Emphasize that her being different is not what caused her to deserve bullying – instead, it is the bully’s own behaviors and issues that are causing them to act that way. Again, reiterate that it is okay to be different and that you will support her as she is, even if others are bullying her for who she is.
When Is It Time to Step In?
So, you’ve learned some steps on how to support your teen who is dealing with bullying. But when is it time to step in? First, if the situation is chronic, it is time to take action. Continual bullying could negatively impact her academic performance or even her overall interest in going to school. Second, if you see your daughter experiencing severe anxiousness, mood changes, changes in appetite, or not sleeping well, you need to address the bullying situation. Not only will this help keep her healthy, but it will show her that you prioritize her mental health and safety. Third, if the bully is making serious threats or causing her physical harm, it must be reported immediately to the school’s administrators. They will likely have policies and procedures for handling bullies that will take some of the stress off your shoulders.
Throughout the process of addressing the bullying, be sure to let your daughter know that she did the right thing by coming to you with the problem and that you will work with her to figure it out.
At Nongirly, we support all girls who feel different as well as the parents of those unique girls. We want girls to see that it’s okay to be different. Learning how to deal with bullying, as a teen or as their parent, can be extremely difficult. It is important to communicate, learn the situation, contact the school if needed, let your daughter know that her differences are not the cause of the teasing, and step in when necessary to resolve the situation.