Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Anti-Bullying Tactics Begin At Home

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.  
Teach Positive Ways of Protecting Themselves
  • 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. 
Get Professional Support When Needed
If your teen is showing the following signs, seek professional help:
Learn more about this topic in my next blog post, and please share your experiences in the comments.