Living in Mexico

Teenage Bullying

Bullying must always be addressed and never ignored

In this article, I give some advice on how to help your child if he (or she) is being bullied. When your son or daughter tells you, your first reaction may be out of feelings of shock and anger. But it is important to stay calm and to listen very carefully to find out what is going on. Encourage your child to talk about what exactly happened, but respect it as well if he doesn’t want to tell you everything. For most teenagers it’s difficult to talk about their emotions. Furthermore, be a good listener and try not to give advice instantly. Summarize the problem and verbalize the emotions of your child instead, so you can demonstrate to him that you understand his feelings. Subsequently, tell him that you are going to find a solution together. Provide him with information about the possible causes of bullying and ask if your child has any idea why he is being bullied. Often children bully to get attention. They want things their way, and they think bullying will make them popular with other children. Some bully because they are feeling insecure about their position in their peer group. This explanation is important because victims of bullying tend to feel responsible for what happened to them and, obviously, they are not.

bullyIf your child agrees, you can try to devise several solutions together. Choose the option that is most likely to succeed and he feels comfortable about. If bullying takes place, for example, at school or the sports club, it is important to talk with the people who are in charge as well. Maybe your child wants to be there too; it may work very well to let him explain the problem himself.

Maybe your child would like to practice the solution first, in that case you can play the part of the bully. Check if the solution worked out well as soon as he comes home from school, or wherever the bullying took place. Evaluate the solution if it wasn’t successful, and try to figure out another way to solve the situation.

Last but not least, I need to emphasize that bullying always needs to be stopped. Frequently, being bullied can damage the self esteem substantially and may result in lack of basic trust in other people.

Rosan Ouwerkerk is a Dutch registered psychotherapist and she runs a private practice in Playa del Carmen. If you think her help is required, you can contact her: rosan.ouwerkerk@gmail.com

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