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Bullying Counseling and Therapy

What is bullying?

With so much attention to the “bullying” problems affecting our kids today, it might feel silly to ask. But we get it.

Just for the record: Bullying can refer to any unwelcome or unrequested acts of violence, aggression, intimidation, harassment, verbal abuse, social exclusion or sexual coercion, which are used TO CAUSE HARM, either physical or psychological.

Although bullying most commonly occurs among children, tweens, and teens, it also occurs amongst adults in the workplace, at college, etc. Bullying Counseling is available for individuals of all ages.

Is my kid being bullied?

In children, tweens, and teens, bullying victims are often chosen by offenders on the basis of some difference or perceived weakness. Kids in the following groups are at higher risk of bullying: minority status (racial, ethnic, religious minorities, LGBTQ identification); low-income students; having intellectual or developmental disabilities; kids who look different from their peers (heavier, thinner, shorter, taller, have acne, etc); kids who struggle with a mental health concern such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self-harm, etc).

Warning signs your kiddo may be being bullied:

  • Stolen or destroyed property: missing or damaged things such as clothing, electronics, school supplies, etc
  • Unexplained injuries: fresh bruises, cuts, scrapes, bite marks
  • Skipping School
  • Unexplained illnesses: frequent stomach-aches, headaches, nausea
  • Declining Performance: academically, on teams, at work, etc
  • Social Isolation: regularly excluded from activities other peers are attending; avoidance of places that are unstructured or unsupervised by authority figures, where bullying is more likely: locker rooms, bathrooms, bus rides, walk home from school
  • Self-harm or suicidal thoughts or statements
  • Episodes of rage
  • Sleep Disturbances: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, sleeping much more than same-age peers, chronic nightmares
  • Eating Disturbances: frequently not wanting to eat, a sudden increase in appetite and weight, disordered eating habits such as anorexia, bulimia, etc.

Warning signs your kiddo might be bullying others:

We don’t like to think about our kids as being a potential bully but, even among the best parents, it does happen. If you are concerned, keep an eye out for these warning signs:

  • Unusual Injuries: Bloody or bruised knuckles, bite marks or fingernail scratches
  • Unexplained Property Acquisition: possession of electronics, money, clothing, school supplies that the child should otherwise not have
  • Behavior problems at school: such as frequent detentions, expulsions, trips to the principal’s office, difficulty respecting authority figures
  • Social Aggression: evidence that your child is engaging in cyber-bullying, name-calling, manipulation, gossiping, spreading rumors, etc
  • Pro-Violence Attitude: Shares views including the use of force to achieve what they want, lots of exposure to (or seeking out) violent video games, movies, music or pornography
  • Physical Aggression: Verbal threats or physical altercations, short-tempered, frequent episodes of rage.
  • Lack of Empathy: cruelty to animals, forcing sexual contact, observed to be “cold” or remorseless
  • Rule-breaking: shoplifting, vandalism, fire-setting, drug or alcohol abuse, etc

Can Counseling and Therapy for Bullying Help my Child or Me?

For victims of bullying:

We get it. There’s nothing worse than feeling targeted and unsupported, or than watching your child be physically/emotionally hurt, and not being able to keep them safe. Counseling can help increase psychological healing and begin trauma recovery by breaking the cycle of helplessness.

This is done by increasing self-esteem, working through feelings of guilt, shame, sadness and anxiety, addressing any other issues going on simultaneously such as mood, sleep, eating problems, PTSD, substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideation.

For children who bully:

We know that often, parents of kids who bully carry a lot of shame because of their children’s behaviors. However, we also know that you didn’t raise your sweet little pumpkin to become a teen or tween who bullies others. In counseling and therapy addresses bullying behaviors, we can help you outline and stick to effective consequences for bullying, and help your child:

  • Develop a sense of consequences
  • Learn how spiteful actions can impact other people’s emotional well-being
  • Examine possible traumatic experiences that may have led to some anti-social tendencies
  • Reinforce social skill development, self-esteem and self-control
  • Work on coping skills and increase anger management skills
  • Increase social behaviors such as empathy, volunteering, sharing, etc