Undoing the Damage of Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying is as damaging to the psychological health of a child as physical bullying is to physical health. Long term effects can range from self-esteem issues to depression and even homicidal or suicidal thoughts. It's important for parents to help their children overcome the damage from psychological bullying to enable them to avoid these long term effects. Adults who have endured bullying as a child have reported having trouble holding a job, maintaining or starting relationships and taking adequate care of themselves. A damaged self esteem is the root cause of all of these problems.

Verbal Bullying Defined
Verbal bullying is characterized by repeated harassment, degrading put-downs, exclusion and humiliation, in any combination. The repetition causes the damage to be deeply internalized until the victim believes that he is not good enough, unworthy of friendship and love and incapable of success. The inner monologue of the victim repeats the harmful words, reinforcing the damage.

Repairing the Damage
Know that recovery is a process. Even after the bullying has stopped, the damage remains. The healing powers of time and talking to your child may not be enough, but it is an important start.

Children need to know their parents are supportive and empathetic, not blaming them or thinking that they are weak or deserving of the punishment they suffered from the bully. Parents should do what they can to show love, to provide positive and appropriate praise and to give opportunities for success to their child. The child needs to feel safe, capable and loved, both at home and at school. Schools must take an active role to prevent bullying. Sometimes parents need to get involved, informing teachers and school administrators to remove the bully from the school or to separate a child from a bully.

Encourage your child to have social opportunities in a safe setting with good friends. Don't force it. If your child is reluctant, try some role playing to make her feel empowered to return to social situations without anxiety. If your child remains withdrawn, seek the help of a psychologist to help put the harassment in a proper perspective and allow your child to rebuild his self esteem.

Get help. A child therapist is an expert at helping children recover their self worth. If your child was ill you would take her to the doctor. For emotional trouble, a child therapist is needed. As the parent, your support is absolutely essential to your child's recovery. Your child will thank you by becoming a successful and well-adjusted adult.

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