You’ve noticed your son or daughter has been more withdrawn lately. They don’t laugh the way they once did, and they seem more anxious.
Pained expressions and furrowed brows cross their face when they’re using social media. Finally, you come across them crying one day, and they admit someone has bullied them.
Knowing that your child has been bullied is heartbreaking. As a parent, it is painful to see them have to go through cruelty inflicted on them by peers.
Teens can be bullied for so many reasons. Some of the most common include appearance, race or gender, socio-economic status, and more. Bullying brings with it shame, humiliation, and exclusion. No one likes to experience such treatment.
When children or teens experience it, bullying can lead to severe consequences for emotional and mental health.
Bullying falls into several categories, including:
- Verbal – teasing, name-calling, mocking
- Physical – hitting, stealing possessions, or other physical aggression
- Emotional – being excluded by friends, ignored during conversations, and more
- Cyber – bullying that occurs online, typically through social media
There is a powerful awareness of bullying today. Efforts to curb it have grown. But it still happens, even to the extent that teens can be driven to suicide by its effects.
Unfortunately, the pervasiveness of social media allows bullying to extend into all hours of the day and night. Classmates, acquaintances, and anonymous users can make comments about teens’ social standing, reputation, and so much more.
At-Home Treatment After Bullying
If your teen has been bullied, you are deeply concerned about its effect on them. You worry that they won’t be able to bounce back, or they will isolate themselves from friends and activities.
Perhaps you carefully observe their behavior, hoping they won’t notice, searching for any clues of lingering emotional damage. Keep in mind that there are steps you can take at home to support your teen after bullying, such as:
- Do not blame them or question their interpretation of events.
- Encourage them to contact school staff or other adults where it may have happened.
- Work with your teen to plan an effective response to bullies. Sometimes it’s not best to rush in to confront the bully or school staff to solve the problem for them, but at times the situation calls for it.
- Help them build and maintain their confidence through activities they enjoy.
- Create a positive, supportive home environment.
If you’ve been implementing steps such as these at home but still aren’t sure if your teen needs more help, seeking a consultation with a mental health professional could offer additional guidance.
When to Seek Professional Help
Many factors can play into whether or not your teen will need professional help after bullying. These could include the length and duration of the bullying behavior, how openly public (including online) the bullying was, your teen’s unique temperament, and the health of support networks already available to your teen.
Following are behaviors to watch for after bullying occurs, indicating your teen may need professional help:
Symptoms of depression. Some of these are fatigue, changes in sleeping or eating, lack motivation for even enjoyable pastimes, crying, and unusual moodiness. This behavior goes beyond a “blue day” or a rough week.
Social withdrawal and isolation. Does your teen no longer go out with friends? Have they lost enthusiasm for school and activities? Are they uncomfortable leaving the house?
Symptoms of anxiety. Is your teen more cautious than they used to be, even about things they enjoy doing? Do they worry more than they used to? Do they often seem frightened or fearful?
Lack of confidence. If your teen has become markedly less confident than they once were, avoiding even those activities that they excel in, they may need more help. Bullying can create enormous self-doubt and hesitation in even the most confident kids.
Clues that your teen may be suicidal. The most devastating consequence of bullying can be suicide. While suicidal teens may display symptoms of depression or other warning signs, sometimes there are no apparent clues.
If your teen has been bullied, please know that there is help for them. They can recover and rebuild their confidence and self-esteem.
Our office has many years of experience working with teens. Please reach out to us to learn more about how we can help your family.
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