Ask the Expert: Braces, Bullying, and Self-Esteem
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Another thing would be to listen to your child to really hear her fears and concerns and reflect back on what you’re hearing—really sitting down with her and having a conversation rather than dancing around it. Parents sometimes rely on techniques such as judging, criticizing, and nagging when they get frustrated or are tired of fighting with their kids. These techniques don’t work. Listen and pay attention to your child but also make sure you provide appropriate structure that she needs to feel safe.
Try to build up and highlight your child’s strengths and praise her for them—not just for her looks. A lot of parents and people in society praise kids, especially girls, for their looks. The goal is to find attributes to praise other than looks. Praise talent, intellectual ability, sense of humor, or sports ability to produce well-rounded children who don’t rely on one thing to have their self-esteem based on.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for a child who is being bullied?
What really promotes bullying is when no one speaks up, when no one says anything. So we are always teaching and encouraging children to speak up and talk about. We want the kids who are being bullied to talk to an adult try to get help from parents and the school and learn how to speak to the bully and say I’m okay with who I am and I don't know why you’re making fun of me—learn how to stand up for themselves.
Sometimes children aren’t able to do that and they need assistance from others, so the purpose of speaking to a parent is to figure out how they can handle the situation on their own. Parents may even want to get involved, tell the school what’s going on, and assist their child in getting assistance. It’s the school’s responsibility to provide education on bullying and teach children to stand up for each other. When the bully told by many different kids “Don’t make fun of or pick on that kid,” the bully pretty much stops.
Jill M. Emanuele, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist at the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Center for the Child Mind Institute.