What to do if your teenager is being bullied

Mother and daughter talking in kitchen
Mother and daughter talking in kitchen
Mother and daughter talking in kitchen

 

We should never blame someone for experiencing bullying, or treat the issue like it’s unimportant. By talking with your child openly you can find out more about what’s going on, and help your child understand bullying and the kinds of things that will help them cope and respond.

What can you do?

It can be difficult to know what to do or where to start when your child is being bullied. Below are some ways that you can work with your child to help them with the bullying they are experiencing:

  • Ask for details. Why and how is your child being bullied? What did the other person say, and in what context? How was the person who bullied interacting with other people that were around at the time? These questions will help you work out possible reasons that lead the other child to bully your teenager.
  • Discuss the way it has made your child feel and react, and why it makes them feel this way. This will help them to label their own emotions and assist with building self-awareness. Talking about it will help them process the emotion.
  • Identify what the other person’s point of view might be. Sometimes people don’t realise that the things they say or do are hurtful. It also helps to learn how to see other people’s perspectives, to learn about and identify what might change their actions. Encouraging your child to think about this will help them find ways that problems can be solved.
  • Discuss ways to confront the bullying and resolve the situation. Talking to the person who bullied and confronting the behaviour can be difficult and scary. Discuss ways your child can be assertive, respectful, and plan some things they might say that could help. Help them choose options that might work and talk about what to do if it doesn’t.

Learning how to handle bullying helps your child develop some essential conflict resolution skills. However, in some circumstances it just isn’t safe for your teenager to handle it on their own, or the person who bullied isn’t interested in changing their behaviour. If that’s the case, and the bullying is serious or has been going on for a while, involve their school, other parents or authorities if it’s appropriate.

Page last review by ReachOut Parents Clinical Advisory Group on