High school is a weird time in life. For some kids, high school is great! They make a ton of friends. They go to parties. They play on sports teams. They make a lot of fun memories that stick with them for the rest of their lives.
For other kids, though, high school can be horrible.
Teenagers who get bullied at school often have a lot of anxiety about going to school. Knowing that you’re going to be picked on or taunted all day makes for a tough existence. Now that technology has advanced, and teens have more access to social media, bullying is even worse than it used to be. These days, teens who get bullied have to face their aggressors both in-person and online.
When teens are worried about being bullied, they don’t get to focus on building the self-confidence and life skills needed in adulthood.
If your teen son is getting bullied at school, he might benefit from attending a boarding school where he can get a change of scenery. Students at therapeutic boarding schools participate in high school classes to earn school credit, and they participate in therapeutic activities to help them gain confidence and build useful life skills.
5 Tips for teens to handle bullying
Hopefully, the administration at your son’s school is trying to monitor for bullying situations so that they can intervene. Even with the best of intentions, though, bullying can still happen during the teen years. If your son’s bully knows that he will get in trouble if he does something mean during class, he might wait until later in the day to do it. Bullies understand what they can and can’t get away with, and they can be pretty sneaky.
So, your son needs to know how to handle bullying. Check in with him regularly to see how he’s doing and to review these strategies. He might not be able to eliminate bullying from his life, but he can take action to handle it.
1. Recognize and acknowledge that bullying is happening
This seems like a pretty basic step, but it can be tough for teens to see bullying for what it is. When their peers pick on them, taunt them, and make fun of them, many kids take it to heart. They start to think that they’re doing something to deserve the mistreatment.
Make sure that your son realizes that he’s not at fault. He needs to know that he’s still worthy of love and friendship, even if some of the kids at school don’t like him. Bullying behavior is never OK, and it is entirely the bully’s fault.
2. Block the bully when possible
Your teen won’t always escape his bully, but he can put some blocks in place to limit interactions. He could block his bully’s account on social media so that they can’t see each other’s posts. If online bullying is bad enough, maybe your teen could take a break from social media so that the bully can’t taunt him online.
While at school, you could work with the school’s guidance counselor to ensure that your son and his bully don’t have to interact a lot. This could include being in different classes, having different lunch breaks, or anything else to keep them apart for most of the day. It’s harder for bullies to pick on their target if their target isn’t available.
3. Join supportive groups
Your kid needs to have friends and needs to build social relationships. Encourage your teen to participate in activities with other kids his age to make new friendships. If school isn’t a safe place for your son to hang out, look for local recreation leagues or clubs for him to join.
He needs to develop social connections during his teenage years to foster a sense of self-worth and belonging.
4. Try not to react the way the bully wants
Bullies pick on people who will give them the reaction they want. Though bullies will sometimes pick on their victims in a one-on-one situation, they usually want some onlookers. They want to put on a show, get a reaction from their victim, and walk away feeling more powerful.
Help your son identify the reaction that the bully wants. Then come up with some alternate reactions that he can try when he is bullied. If the bully doesn’t get the response he wants, he’s more likely to move on.
5. Talk to trusted friends and family members
Being bullied feels awful. You know that someone doesn’t like you, and they make sure that other people also don’t like you. During the teen years, kids need acceptance. Bullying is in complete opposition to acceptance. Teens who feel like they aren’t accepted can start to doubt themselves and completely lose self-confidence.
When your kid is bullied, he needs to know that other people genuinely like him and value him. Encourage him to talk about his experiences with trusted friends and family members to get the support he needs.
If you are worried that your son is developing mental health problems due to being bullied, step in to address those problems as quickly as possible. Mental health problems like anxiety and depression can compound over time and cause lasting damage.
At Sundance Canyon Academy, we work with countless teens who need to develop self-confidence to overcome anxiety and depression. Contact us at 866-224-2733 for more information about our school.