A Letter to Parents: Insights from a Bullied TeenCommunity
My name is Aija and I was bullied from the time I was eight years old until I was sixteen years old—verbally, physically, and online. I have the most devoted, loving parents in the world, but they had no idea what I was going through. Why? Because kids are good at hiding things. I was good at hiding things.
I was so scared of people thinking that I did something wrong, something that caused me to be bullied. I was so ashamed about causing any drama by speaking out about the bullying I endured. But as a result of not being honest with my parents, I suffered through my experiences alone.
A few years later, I not only (FINALLY) opened up to my parents and received the guidance and support I needed, but I also wrote a bestselling book about my journey. Throughout it all, these are the best tips I have cultivated about how to help your kids deal with bullying. I want to share them with you so that no child ever has to go through bullying alone.
I think the most important step to helping your child deal with bullying is to create a safe and understanding bond between you and your daughter or son. It’s so scary to open up to a parent or adult about what you are going through, especially if you don’t even know how to articulate it. Make sure that your child knows that their voice is heard and valued by you. Make sure that they know that you will never leave their side and you will fight for their happiness.
Oftentimes when children are bullied, they build up a wall between themselves and the outer world in order to protect their hearts. You might feel like you are being “iced out” from your child. I did the same thing to my parents. Start to pick away at the wall your child may have built by having repeated check-ins, conversations, and dialogues about how they are feeling, how school is going, and what their social situation is like. In the beginning, it might seem like you can’t even penetrate the wall. But I promise: If you continue to have these conversations, things will change.
The Super Hero
I know that it’s important for kids to find their voice and advocate for themselves, but once in a while, we all need a super hero. Be that super hero for your child. Show them that you will be there every step of the way. Coach them on how to speak up for themselves or report incidents to teachers. Watch movies and TV shows about bullying and social isolation with your son or daughter. Be not only their parent, but their buddy, safety net, and super hero.
I know it can be scary to wonder about what is going on in your child’s mind or in their lives away from you while they walk the school halls. You’re not with them every step of the way, and that can be painful. I really believe that if you create this safe, trusting relationship with your son or daughter, you’ll be able to help them through bullying and a place of self-advocacy and self-acceptance. Be their super hero and teach them that they were born to soar through every up and every down.
— A daughter, student, and girl who was bullied but soared towards happiness
Give your girl the tools she needs to stand tall and help others when faced with bullying. Common Sense Media offers tips and advice to help your family, and Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends offers support for girls ages 8+.
Aija Mayrock is the author of The Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a Teen.
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