Assisting a middle school student who is being bullied

Supporting a middle schooler who has been bullied

Your teen comes home from middle school with his or her head down in astonishment. When you inquire about their day, they bury their heads in their hands, cry, and reveal that their closest buddy is spreading stories about them around the school and refusing to allow them to sit with any of their friends at lunch.

Your heart begins to sink. Perhaps you recall how middle school can be a struggle for relationships in a variety of ways. You might feel protective and want to contact your friend's parents to give them a piece of your mind, but try to avoid that urge. Being present for your kid right now is one of the finest ways to assist them. How do you go about doing it, and what other options do you have? Three suggestions are provided below.

It's crucial to start with validation before moving on to problem-solving. Validation recognizes your teen's emotional experience without agreeing or disagreeing with it. Validation shows your kid that you hear them, assists them in managing the severity of their suffering, and increases the likelihood that their ears will open up and hear what you have to say next.

When validating, try to express the emotion or start with a hesitant statement like "You're extremely [insert emotion here]" or "You appear [insert emotion here]." Starting with statements like "I know" or "I understand" is a bad idea. Teens go through a time in their development where they believe no one else understands how they feel. They are also responsible for detaching themselves from their parents, so they may become irritated if you try to relate to them through difficult times.

Teach anti-bullying techniques.

After you've validated your teen's emotional experience, tell them you admire them for sharing it with you. By doing so, you're helping to stress the importance of teenagers informing adults about these occurrences and having a safe place to express their thoughts.

Then, if they wish and when they're ready, you may offer to speak through some options for dealing with the problem. This approach allows your teen to approaching you when he or she is ready to hear new ideas. If you have that talk with your teen, it might help them realize why some individuals bully. You may explain, "Although knowing that those who bully typically do not feel good about themselves does not make your experience any less unpleasant, it might sometimes help to know that those who bully usually do not feel good about themselves. They bully in order to make others feel inferior or low to themselves."

You might also mention that relationship-based bullying is more common in middle school since classmates play a greater role. (For younger kids, check my earlier blog article about how to help a bullied child.)

As difficult as it may be, remind your teen that it's critical not to give the bully the impression that his or her efforts to pull your teen down are succeeding. It's the equivalent of striking the jackpot at a slot machine. If a classmate continues to put money into a slot machine and receives no money in return, they will eventually quit. Attention is similar to winning money at a slot machine. To persuade a bully to leave you alone, you must withhold the desired attention. This might involve things like not making eye contact or stating things like "You're wasting your time" or "That doesn't concern me." Any kind of attention is like winning a jackpot at a slot machine.

How does your adolescent accomplish this? Request that they go through specific measures that they can do. Instead, they may strike up a discussion with another student at the table. Even if this student isn't a possible new best friend, having other social contacts or focusing entirely on how lunch tastes rather than what the bully is saying is the equivalent of handing the bully zero coins from the slot machine. To demonstrate an interest in others while ignoring the bully, your teen can move their head and body away from the aggressor and toward other pupils at the table. If classmates inquire about what the bully is saying, your adolescent should respond calmly by stating that the rumours are untrue and changing the subject to let the conversation go ahead.

Parents can tell teachers and administrators so that they can keep an eye on their teen's interactions with the bully and intervene if necessary. While this is a viable alternative, it's equally critical to teach your child how to sustain themselves in these situations. provides parents and children with resources to help prevent and handle bullying of all types, including cyberbullying. You may also find answers to commonly asked concerns regarding bullies and bullying on the website of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Progress is made via practice.

If your adolescent is willing, have him or she role-play with you so that you may rehearse these actions and feel more secure about attempting them at school. Before you halt to discuss, let your teenager see what may happen based on how they answer or don't respond. That way, kids can see for themselves what the possible outcomes are without having to stop in the middle of a reenactment for adjustments. If your teen's reply isn't in line with their objective, see if they have any other recommendations or if they'd want to hear yours. This encourages your kid to seek out your input and makes it more likely that he or she will get it.

Your kid may benefit from meeting with a school guidance counsellor or a mental health practitioner in addition to the work done at home. These gatherings can provide additional assistance as well as a safe environment for people to share their stories. Even if a kid is working hard to avoid paying attention to a classmate, they may still need a safe space to grieve the loss of a friendship. Bullying is unpleasant and unacceptably harmful. Nonetheless, by using these tools, you may encourage your teen to take a stand and thrive.

Read more on Mental Health.


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