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When Your Teen is Bullied

By: Dr. Adria O'Donnell, Clinical and Consulting Psychology and expert advisor at
According to bullying statistics and surveys conducted by the National Institute of Health, "One out of every four kids will be abused by another youth." Also, "77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally, and physically, and 14% of those who were bullied said they experienced severe reactions to the abuse."

With the increased prevalence of bullying, parents need to do all they can at home to build up their child’s self esteem and prepare them to handle difficult situations.

Parenting Tips to Help Deal With Bullying

  • Listen to them. Let your child express themselves and tell their side of the story without interruptions. Often times they need to vent their frustrations and fears. Be empathetic, nonjudgmental, and reassure them you are on their team.
  • Take them seriously. Sometimes it is easy to blow things off as if they are being dramatic.
  • Investigate what they are telling you. Ask direct open-ended questions to get them to open up and share what they know. You want to gather as much information as possible. Also, speak to other kids or teachers you believe are involved.
  • Problem solve with your child about how to stand up for themselves, set boundaries, handle stress and conflict. Teach them not to be a victim and to not lose their innate power to someone else's insecurities.
  • Teach them to not personalize the bully's actions. Help them to understand there is a deeper meaning and purpose to the bully's behavior. Giving insight into why a bully acts the way they do will help your child to depersonalize the bully’s mean spirited actions.
  • Role play with your child to help them gain confidence in their abilities to handle difficult situations.
  • Reflect their true nature. See the good in your child and help them to always love and honor themselves. Encourage them to be independent and understand the importance of positive character development.
  • Give tools to help them learn how to belong, fit in, and develop adequate social skills with friends and in groups. Invite other children over for play dates or to hang out. Help them find friends who are supportive and bring out their best self.
  • Involve your child in outside activities so they can feel competent and empowered.
  • Provide a safe and peaceful environment at home. Do not tolerate bullying between siblings. Monitor their social media, internet use, and cell phone texts.
  • Love them up! Let your child know you've got their back at all times.

Dr. Adria O'Donnell has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over 10 years and specializes in working with children and adolescent girls. She is a coveted public speaker and a valued contributor to