Parents often contact us at Evangelhouse with concerns that their daughter has been bullied at their school of origin back home. However, many parents are unaware of any preventative steps they can take now to mitigate the negative effects of bullying, either online or face-to-face. Asking open-ended questions and interacting with your teen daughter can help parents establish and sustain a connection that can make her feel more secure. Your daughter likely finds significant support in your relationship with her. If you have a safe and honest relationship with your daughter, they are more likely to come to you if they are the victim of bullying.
A decline in social and communication skills is a primary way bullying affects one’s sense of self. It’s crucial for parents to support these actions by complimenting children directly on their behavior, such as by saying, “Wow, you did a really excellent job advocating for yourself today,” or “I really admire how nice of a friend you are.” Positive attributes that you notice in your child can be expressed aloud to help them fight negative self-talk when they’re feeling sad and hard on themselves. Even if your daughter doesn’t show you any love in return, it can still be beneficial to maintain a positive attitude about how much they mean to you. Even if they don’t acknowledge it, they are always hearing you.
Parents often struggle to explain to their daughters why some teens behave in a bullying manner to them. People frequently assume that children who bully do so because they have low self-esteem—that is, because they don’t think highly of themselves. But is this actually the case? If you’ve ever dealt with a bully in your life, you might be curious as to why they look so confident in themselves given that bullies are often thought of as having low self-esteem. In actuality, experts have discovered that a bully’s hurtful behavior has less to do with their self-esteem and more to do with the sensation of shame.
Shame is related to how you view yourself and is brought on by failing to meet your own expectations. Shame is distinct from guilt, another feeling you could experience if you don’t live up to social expectations. If your actions have caused someone else harm, you could feel guilty, but you can also choose to ignore your guilt. But shame makes you believe that your entire being is flawed. If a child feels that particular aspects of himself—her looks, friendships, performance, socioeconomic standing, or the behavior of family members—don’t measure up to what he perceives as “good enough” or ideal traits, she may feel ashamed about herself.
The bottom line is that bullies are adept at making other people feel ashamed. There is no connection between children who act aggressively against other children and low self-esteem, according to research. In fact, psychologists have discovered that although bullies tend to have high self-esteem, they are also extremely “shame-prone.”
This finding indicates that bullies are concerned that their weaknesses or failures may be revealed. Having strong self-esteem despite having shame-related issues is what causes someone to behave aggressively. Because it diverts attention away from the aspects of themselves that they are embarrassed of, their harsh behavior against others maintains their sense of self-worth.
Here are some simple solutions we suggest to your child that might mitigate the negative effects of being bullied:
- Speak to someone; it can make you feel less alone to have someone listen to you. You could consult a friend, relative, or other responsible adult. You can, of course, always speak with one of our counselors or mentors.
- Remind yourself that you are sufficient. When we’re down, we never seem to remember all the wonderful things we’ve accomplished. Start a Gratitude Journal to serve as a constant reminder that you are enough.
- Make a list of all your strongest traits: Self-love is crucial and can significantly boost our self-esteem and confidence.
- Get rid of all the unpleasant pages and users on your social media accounts by unfollowing or blocking them. While receiving “likes” and other good feedback can lift your spirits and give you more self-assurance, it’s vital to remember that you should never depend on them to make you feel better.
- Spend time with happy individuals since being in a toxic friendship group may significantly affect your confidence and self-esteem and sap your vitality. Our mental health depends on having supportive friends. They keep us resilient, boost our self-esteem, and assist us in managing stress.
- No matter how big or small, it’s crucial to recognize and appreciate your accomplishments. Setting goals is one of the most crucial things a person can do, and accomplishing them (no matter how long it takes) is another.
Finally, if your teen daughter is not able to function in school or with peers due to bullying, it may be time for a change. At Evangelhouse, we provide a healthy campus culture that can create corrective experiences to undo the negative effects of bullying by fostering healthy peer relationships. Contact us at Evangelhouse to discuss how we may help your daughter get back on track.