Improving Your Teen’s Self Esteem After Being Bullied

Somedays it probably feels hopeless…

When your kid is going through a terrible time and everything you are trying isn’t seeming to help, it can feel scary and overwhelming. 

You want nothing more than to take your kid’s pain away. If your kid is being bullied, you may additionally feel absolute rage, terror, a sense of injustice, confusion (who would bully your kid?! Why?! They are amazing!!), and a deep deep fear about the impacts this is having on them. 

You know that bullying can have long term health consequences. You know that without the appropriate support your child is at risk of emotional or mental health concerns which can make them even more of a target for bullying and future abuse (yes, it’s bonkers and completely backwards and unfair!)

You need to help them now. And you are trying so hard. You are scared.

Today let’s talk about some things you can do right now to help them thrive even if you can’t call up each of those bullies’ parents and blast them (don’t lie, you are tempted to. And who could blame you).  

What does your kid need most right now?

You would assume the first thing, of course, would be for the bullying to stop. 

But here’s the thing: even if you were able to stop the bullying, the tendrils of that bullying have snaked their way into your kid’s psyche. Maybe they aren’t getting teased at school anymore, but they are still believing they are unwanted and worthless and not as good as the other kids. The bullies got into their head and into their heart.This means that even without overt bullying happening, internally the kid is still feeling bullied. They may even be bullying themselves by putting themselves down, and feeling a decrease in their worth. A decrease in self-worth can lead to self-defeating thoughts and self-destructive behaviours. 

What your tween or teen needs most is a loving, caring family member/caregiver to remind them that they are accepted unconditionally, that they are good enough just as they are, and that they are safe. Your tween or teen needs a strong message of support to counter-balance the damage the bullies have done. 

Your kid can “unlearn” the negative things that were said to them or done to them. They can learn to recognize that this bullying was not about them and not their fault. 

But they need you to start that process for them. 

What can you do every day to remind your kid of their worth? 

For some kids, they need to hear how loved they are. What their skills are. What makes them special. Why people like them and why people enjoy being around them. Offer to them these clear reassurances frequently and without prompt. Help build them up so they have at least a few positive thoughts and beliefs that can push out the negative ones. 

But other kids won’t find this to be enough. That is because kids often hear nice things from parents and go “Well yeah, you’re my mom you have to say that about me”

These kids need proof that they are safe, needed, accepted, and wanted

You do this by being present with them. Being attuned to their needs. By listening to them. By taking interest in them and their hobbies. By joining in with them on their favourite video game or TV show and then telling them how much you enjoyed spending that time together. By inviting them to do fun activities together and showing them why they are a joy to be with. These kids need the quality time and the invitations to hang out in order to believe that the nice things you say about them are actually true. Otherwise they are “just words”. 

So what are two compliments you can give your kid right now to help them remember they are way more than what those bullies have said about them? And what are two ways you can prove that those compliments are true through your actions?

I’d love to hear your ideas!