5 Crucial Steps Toward Healing From Bullying

How to help your child overcome bullying

Mother comforting daughter

Bullying can be a horrific experience. In fact, the effects of bullying can linger long after the bullying has ended. What’s more, if not addressed right away, it can cause problems for your child later in life. And although the road to recovery for him may be more challenging than you originally anticipated, there is still hope that your child can emerge healthier and stronger despite having been a target of bullying.

How to Help Your Child Heal After Being Bullied

While it is true bullying is painful and can impact a child for years to come if not addressed, the good news is that your child can heal from bullying with the right care. Here are the top five things you can do to help your child recover from bullying.

Encourage your child not to be defined by the bullying. The key is that your child doesn’t allow what happened to him to define who he is as a person. Help your child recognize that bullies have a choice. Your child did not deserve to be bullied.

Encourage your child to leave the hurtful words and painful actions in the past.

Teach him to recognize his strengths and to develop those. Be sure he knows that there is so much more to him and so much he has to offer.

Change your child’s mode of thinking. Many times kids who have been bullied will dwell on the bullying they have experienced often allowing it to consume their every thought. Encourage your child to reframe his thinking when it comes to bullying. The goal is that his thoughts would center around things that have meaning or purpose in his life and not the bullying he experienced.

If he has trouble doing this on his own, a counselor can help him learn to redirect his thought processes. What’s more, if your child is feeling guilty about how he confronted the bully or the length of time it took him to take action, address these negative thoughts as well.

It is important that your child begins to look for the lessons in the bullying and leave the negative stuff behind. For instance, did he discover that he is stronger than he thought? Did he learn how to be assertive? These are the things he should think about and not the negative messages the bully communicated.

Help your child reclaim control. Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness are common among victims of bullying and can carry over into adulthood. As a result, your child runs the risk of living his life as a perpetual victim. Your child needs to realize that while he cannot control what happened to him, he can control his reaction.

Recovery starts when children can take control of their thoughts, emotions, and actions and begin making healthier choices. Help kids identify things in their lives that they do have control over.

For instance, he can choose to think about something other than the bullying. Or, he can choose to do something to help others in similar situations. The point is that your child learns how to identify healthy choices and then follow through with them. Doing so will help him feel more in control of his life. And he will be more likely to break free of victim thinking.

Focus on personal growth. Identify areas where your child needs to grow or heal. For instance, you may discover that your child needs help in building his self-esteem or becoming more assertive. Or perhaps he needs to address the stress or anxiety he feels from bullying. The goal is to identify areas in your child’s life that he should work on.

Children who experience bullying can be very distressed by these occurrences. As a parent, you'll need to watch for signs of depression or thoughts of suicide.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Find closure for the bullying. Part of the healing process for your child is being able to put the past behind him and detach from the trauma he experienced. Sometimes this happens naturally with the end of the school year. Other times it will take a little more creativity.

Ultimately, the goal is for a child to no longer allow their thoughts to be preoccupied with what happened to them. 

A Word From Verywell Family

The most important part of any child’s recovery is to move beyond what has happened to them. While it is important to acknowledge how bullying impacted them, they also need to detach from it at some point. Remind them that the bully’s actions and words do not define who they are. Instead, help them rediscover who they are and close the door on the past. 

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