A - Is your child being bullied?
B - How to Talk to Your Teen About Bullying.
Suicides by teens who have been harassed by bullying and by electronic means such as email, Facebook, on websites or via text message are in the news and on the minds of parents everywhere. But rather than simply worrying and hovering over your teen, it's important to address the topic NOW, before any situation in your teen's life escalates.
Here are some tips and tools for talking about the situation with your teens and preteens, with help from "Dr. Vicki Panaccione" and PACER's National Center for Bullying Prevention.
1 - Open the Conversation—Don't Wait for Your Teen
Beginning a conversation with your teenager can be tough, but this topic is crucial. Use the news stories as a conversation opener. Open the
communication flow and listen to what your teen has to say. "Feel the
child out and let him talk. Listen more than speak. Remain neutral,
no preaching, and see where your teen takes the topic", says
2 - If Your Teen Opens Up, DO NOT Shut Him Down!
If your teen feels comfortable enough to explain to you a bullying situation
he or she has experienced or observed, resist the urge to cross-examine!
Getting emotional and angry and asking "Who was it? When did
this happen?" will only close that communication channel.
Instead, respond rather than react. Gentle prompts about how your teen felt during the situation will be the most effective way to keep your teen sharing with you. This is NOT the time for a lecture, it's time to listen.
3 - Prepare Your Teen to Stand Up to Bullying
As parents, we may worry that we sometimes sound like a broken
record, but here are topics you can NEVER talk about too often with your
a) Making good decisions in their treatment of peers
b) Standing up for what they believe in when around others who treat
c) Emphasizing that they NEVER have to "just take it" if they are being
harassed in any way
d) Feeling good about who they are and loving themselves
e) Letting them know that you ALWAYS "have their back", value and
love EVERYTHING about them
"Over half of all kids have been bullied, and cyberbullying in particular can happen over and over before a parent is aware of it. As parents, we need to remind our teens over and over that we are to help them with bad situations," says Dr. Vicki. "It's crucial to let our teens know that a situation is never hopeless."
Remember, No Conversation is Too Short, No Topic Too Frequent
Not every talk with your teen has to be an hour-long heart-to-heart on the couch— short, frequent conversations about bullying and self-esteem with your teen totally count in your communication tally.
Just remember to keep your ears and arms open, and your judgment and lecturing mouth firmly closed. Through diligence and tolerance, you'll be doing your part to help combat the ugly practice of bullying and give your teen the support he needs.