As your teen develops socially, they’ll most likely find new things to interest them and form new friendships in the process. The duration of teen friendships can seem somewhat erratic, much like teenage emotions and behaviors themselves. Interaction among teens will almost always include some form of jesting, teasing, or playfulness, as teens form their personalities, humor, and themselves. While much of this behavior is all part of the normal growth path to maturity and adulthood, far too often teens are taking the teasing to the bullying level, which is focused on intentionally being unkind and hurtful to others.
Teens won’t often confide in others if they’re feeling scared or threatened, so as a parent, it is important to know common signals that indicate bullying, so you can be aware and help your teen if he or she is the victim of bullying.
15 Common Signs Your Teen Is Being Bullied
According to Character.org, these are some of the most common signs that indicate your teen is being bullied at school. Every teen can have a bad day, a disagreement with a friend, or a poor attitude, so it is important to look for patterns of repeated bullying signs or behavior.
1. Unexplained cuts, scrapes, or bruising
2. Loss of toys, school supplies, lunch money, or electronics that your teen insists they lost
3. Loss of interest in school or extracurricular activities
4. Refuses to ride the school bus
5. Sudden fear of being alone, or excessive clinginess with you
6. Sudden change in mood or personality, or in eating and sleeping habits
7. Frequent complaints of illness, headache, stomachaches, and trips to the nurse at school
8. Difficultly sleeping such as crying or bedwetting
9. Sudden bullying behavior toward younger siblings
10. Refusing to use the bathroom anywhere but at home
11. Sudden change in friends, or no desire to hang out with their usual group of friends
12. Significant drop in grades
13. Sullen behavior and talk of feeling worthless or not good enough
14. Speaking about suicide
15. Running away from home
What to Do if You Suspect Your Teen is Being Bullied
If your teen is exhibiting any of these signs regularly, then it is important for you as a parent to recognize the signals, and try to help your teen deal with the bullying situation. Your teen may not come forward themselves to let you know what is going on, as bullied teens often feel too scared or ashamed to tell their parents or other trusted adults.
Empowering Parents recommends taking these steps to help your teen handle a bullying situation:
Speak openly together, and as a family
Let your teen know that you are there for them, and don’t place any blame or judgement on them or their bully. Offer your support, and allow your teen the opportunity to speak freely and openly.
Help your teen build a strategy to deal with their bully, including things such as:
• Teaching your teen not to react out of fear
• Having a “Walk Away” Slogan ready to use and exit a bullying situation
• Ignoring the Bully
• Using the Buddy System with a friend at school
• Talking to trusted adults at home or at school
When to Get Involved or Get Help
If the bullying situation your teen is enduring continues to escalate despite using these various ideas and tactics, then it may be a good time for you to get involved as a parent. Before you step in however, be sure that you speak openly with your teen, letting them know you are there to support, help, and protect them. Be sure that they know and understand that they deserve to be safe and happy at school, and that you want to help them. Often times knowing someone more powerful than their bully is on their side will help them build confidence and gain peace.