Whether it’s “cyberbullying,” or bullying in person, Lisa Furst, LMSW, Director of Education with the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC), has these suggestions for parents to practice—yes, practice. Here’s her homework for parents:
- Talk daily to your teen and find about their school lives and their relationships with friends and peers.
- Listen thoughtfully to their answers. Your teen will then know you are interested in his/her emotional state and will later come to you when upset.
Learn the Signs of Possible Bullying
- Signs of physical injury
- Torn clothing or broken or “lost” possessions
- School avoidance
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches to excuse him/herself from school.
- Mood changes that exceed “usual” mood fluctuations of teenagers. Note increased episodes of tearfulness, anxiety, irritability or apathy.
- Walk away from a bully.
- Avoid physical aggression which may escalate the situation.
- Practice verbal assertiveness such as saying “Stop!” to a bully.This demonstrates that the bully’s behavior is intolerable.
- Increased depression, anxiety, or escalating alcohol or substance use.
- Expressed thoughts about harming himself/herself.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK or The Trevor Project at (866) 4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).
Learn more about this topic in my next blog post, and please share your experiences in the comments.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.