You’re at the dinner table eating with your child. Lately, you’ve noticed that your son or daughter, who used to be happy, carefree and bubbly, has been going through some changes. Your once happy-go-lucky child is now withdrawn, sad and sullen. You ask questions only to be stonewalled in the beginning. Finally, your son/daughter confides in you. He/she is being bullied at school and feels worthless and stupid.
You sit down beside your child, place a loving arm around their shoulders and tell them that you love them and that they are awesome no matter what others at school may tell them. You explain that they have value and are worthy of being loved. You even point out their best qualities to them, only to find that your loving words provide little, if any consolation or assurance.
Your teen or tween looks at you as if you do not know what you’re talking about and says, “You only love me because you’re my mom/dad.” or “I’m your kid. You’re supposed to love me.”
This is exactly what young victims think and say when well-meaning parents or grandparents begin attempting to convince them that they are, in fact, good people.
All too often, the parent is the last to know when their child is being bullied and by the time the parent or legal guardian does find out, the harassment has gone on for so long that the child’s self-esteem has already worn thin. This is why parents should never stop reminding their children/teenagers of their worth.
If your child is a victim of bullies at school, keep showing them love and affection. Never stop praising them because they need it now more than ever! Although children, especially teenagers may respond rather coldly and it may not look as if the loving words and gestures are having any effect right away. Your child does hear you and it just might be the only thing which keeps him/her from trying to harm themselves.
Know that for a few years, between the ages of about 10 to 18, life is about having friends, looking cool and being held in high regard by peers. Popularity is highly valued by those in this age group. Also, remember that bullying is a form of brainwashing. Bullies repetitiously remind victims that they are worthless and sadly, after enough time has gone by, the victim comes to believe it themselves.
Parents should be just as repetitious, if not more than the bullies when countering the messages that bullies bombard their children and teenagers with.
It may take time before the child begins to see their own goodness but rest assured that eventually, the positive words and actions toward the child will pay off and he/she will finally begin to realize that they really are awesome people. Therefore, the words of bullies will no longer be so devastating and chances are that the bullied victim will regain confidence. Better yet, they just might cease to be a victim because of that regained confidence!