Is Your Child Being Bullied? Is Your Child the Bully?

Johnhain/1017 Images

Recently, the potential outcomes from bullying was described in the popular series “13 Reasons Why”.  The series dramatized all the possible worse case scenarios from bullying: suicide, the creation of a potential mass shooter and some horrific examples of bullying (I won’t describe in here).


Graphic, horrible, sensational!  I am not saying that this type of bullying and the outcomes from bullying do not happen.  We know it does. We know that kids who have committed suicide and some mass shooters have a history of being bullied.  But, or course, we know that many kids who have been bullied, do not resort to these actions.


Lasting Trauma


However, research shows that bullying can cause lasting trauma and the effects that trauma can have on an individual: physically and emotionally.  Here is a short-list of effects.

  1. Depression and anxiety
  2. Addictions
  3. Self-esteem and body image issues.
  4. P.T.S.D.
  5. Sleep disorders and body-oriented symptoms such as chronic pain, headaches and digestive issues.
  6. Victimizing others/criminal activity
  7. Academic struggles.


Bullying typically occurs between kids who have more perceived power: are older or more popular against a lower status kid. The behaviors towards the kid occur over time and create a toxic environment of fear, harassment, exclusion for the child who is being abused.


And kids are really, really good at hiding the bullying behaviors, so teachers, school officials, parents don’t realize it is happening.  With cyberbullying, the anonymity makes bullying easier to do and to keep underground.


Why Do Kids Bully?


Kids who bully, do so for a reason.  As is my philosophy, behaviors are information—no matter how destructive.


  1. They are being bullied at home or in other places.  Victims can turn into bullies.
  2. They are insecure about their status and feel the need to put down other kids to establish their place among their friend-group or their age-group.
  3. They have witnessed violence, bullying within their environment and have learned that is what they need to do to get what they want.
  4. Inconsistent follow through on rules and consequences at home.
  5. Giving one’s child too much power in the household.



Parents often do not realize that their child is acting this way.  How bullying is treated is dealt with differently from school to school. And kids who are being bullied often do not confide in their parents and if they do, the bullying does not get dealt with effectively or even at all.


True bullying needs an intervention.  Having your child “ignore” or “laugh it off” is not going to get it done.  Standing up for oneself or ignoring are great strategies when there it is a single incident—a mean comment—or once in awhile teasing  from another child.  But that is not bullying.


Bullying needs a holistic approach: not only protection for the child who is being bullied but compassion and natural consequences for the perpetrators as well as creating a culture of zero tolerance, collaboration and inclusiveness within schools and other settings.  This attitude  definitely needs to begin at home.


I have heard from many parents that their kids are or have been bullied.


How are you teaching your child inclusiveness and compassion?  And how are you handling the situation if your child has been bullied?


Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about concerns for your child and your family.  Click here to grab a spot on my schedule for a free strategy call.


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Sharon Burris-Brown is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach who has helped hundreds of parents release their stress, become more present and mindful parents so they can become their kids’ #1 best teacher.







Outing Mental Illness: In Ourselves, In Our Kids

Daniel Silva Glaxiola from

Last week, a well-known designer, Kate Spade committed suicide leaving a husband of 24 years and her 13 year old daughter. It seemed that her depression was very well hidden. Two days later, another high-profile suicide—Anthony Bourdain also leaving an 11 year old daughter. Last week, in my newspaper, the top story discussed how suicide rates are climbing dramatically. So, it is also for our tweens and teens—as early as 9 or 10 years of age.

Depression in kids can look different than in adults. It often comes out in behaviors and sometimes the depressive mood is not as apparent.

What to do? As parents of tweens and teens, we are told to give our children space. It is so hard to figure out the line between being invasive and being there for our kids. And so, we can feel hesitant to ask the questions, to offer assistance to our kids especially if they are not talking to us.

We can feel really, really shut out and desperate to help AND we struggle so much witnessing their pain.

If we see them isolating, refusing to do things they used to be interested in and they are not replacing these old interests with new ones. If they are starting to vape, smoke, drink or get on their devices to excess. Failing grades, anger, irritation, shutting us out, acting out.

Many of kids may be trying out new behaviors—they may be influenced by their peers, but sometimes, they are trying to fill the gap of insecurity, fears, stress, lack of sleep, sadness that may be just too hard to bear.

But how to know the difference? And how do you approach your child?

Take a Hard Look at Your Own Bias and Shame

Come to accept that mental illness is an illness just like strep throat or a chronic condition such as diabetes. If your child showed signs of having Diabetes 1, you would be getting him or her to the doctor—stat! Right?

So, let go of the sense of shame and belief that you are a failure as a parent. EVERYONE of us has challenges and as much as we hope that our kids walk a golden, smooth path, we accept the child we have in front of us, the path they are on right now and that we are doing our BEST. And by accepting what is in front of us, we can help create in our child acceptance for his or her own struggles and the strength within them to reach out for help when they need it.

Name it with Love

Then identify your own concerns and name them. Sometimes, your child may have a very difficult time putting his or her words around the feelings. Often there may be shame. So simply naming what you observe with love and concern can be one of the most powerful first steps towards healing. Because whatever we can shine the light on, cannot fester.

Normalize, Normalize, Normalize

Your child likely feels like he or she is out there in that vacuum alone. When we deeply believe that the path our child is on right now does not have to be the one he or she stays on, we can help our child begin to feel hope—that this is a temporary dark place, that others are on the same path with them, AND that we are on the path beside them. That the hard, dark places are part of life: disappointments, loss, failure.

But so is joy, love, meaning and purpose as well.

Sharon Burris-Brown M.S.W. National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach is a stress and parent coach. She helps parents become their kids’ # 1 teacher to cultivate strong, healthy and empowered kids. 

If you would like to schedule a FREE strategy call with her to talk about your concerns about your kids and your family, click here.

If you would like to join my FREE Facebook group: Raising Empowered Tweens and Teens for the 21st Century, click here.

This Elusive State Called Happiness

Nordwood Themes from

Not too long ago, the New York Times wrote an article about a professor who teaches a class on happiness. Her course became the most popular class in the history of Yale University’s course offerings. Students sometimes attempted to get in each semester and would still did not get into the class after having tried for four years.

Now Coursera is offering Yale University professor, Laurie Santos’ course on Happiness for free! And THOUSANDS of people have signed up.

Tim Bono, a popular professor on positive psychology at Washington University recently wrote a book called: “When Likes are Not Enough: The Science of Happiness”.  He teaches a very popular class called, “The Science of Happiness”.

Happiness is the goal and appears to be an increasingly elusive one.   The statistics are clear. Our kids are entering college with more mental health issues than ever before. Chronic stress and anxiety are increasingly common.

So, what is going on? The jury is still out. Mental health issues are certainly being identified more, there is less of a stigma—which is a good thing.

However, researchers are finding a correlation between the increase in social media and device use and the rise in depression and anxiety.

Bono’s book speaks to the shallow, relentlessly positive lives people portray on social media and how tempting it is to compare ourselves to our peers. Everyone else seems to be having more fun, to have more friends, to win more awards, to get more likes on their posts, to always appear to be happy, to get into better colleges.

We AND our kids are looking for happiness outside of ourselves—in external rewards, others’ approval and in material things.

Social Media heightens the temptation to take part in the comparison game where what you think you want, you do not believe you have.

Researchers are even finding a correlation between mood and social media use in adults. It is no wonder without a fully developed pre-frontal cortex, our kids are finding it difficult to place their lives in perspective when seeing the constant fabulousness of their peers’’ lives.

So, I posit that “happiness” is not necessarily the end goal in a life well lived. If we can teach our kids that, more importantly, self-compassion, connection to others and having a WHY to our lives are truly more worthy goals, happiness will naturally follow.

What are your thoughts?

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