How to Help Teens Deal with Gossip
The years of a teenager are probably the most difficult years of a child because they have to put up with much more responsibility and also the cruelty of others including bullying and gossiping. Gossiping can be very harmful to a teen even if the gossip is not about your child. It could be hurtful to them if it’s one of their siblings just as much as is if it was about themselves. People thrive on gossip and drama unfortunately in the society we live in. This makes it hard on the person whom the gossip is about because sometimes someone starts a rumor that’s not true and it spreads all over school or the neighborhood. Adults also do things like this just for fun or just because they don’t like someone for a certain reason. Whether your child likes another teen or not, talk to them about the dangers of getting involved in gossip.
The teen years are more prone to gossip more than any other period in life. Rumors and gossip spread as fast as a wildfire, and it’s worse now with social media. The story can be innocent and become quickly blown out of proportion with the truth very distorted. All teens are at risk of being victims of gossiping, and that includes the ones who try to stay away from it.
Gossip is very painful and impacts teens and the effects can be terribly harming and last for quite some time. Gossip will cause teens to isolate from the gang they normally hang out with. This is the time when having friends is important to their well being and health. Gossip can make a teen feel like an outsider who holds in their feelings because they don’t have anyone to talk to. They feel embarrassed and are ashamed of the rumors going around about them. They start to doubt themselves and are too unsure of themselves to ask an adult for help. Gossip also impacts the self-confidence of a teen, which can cause other issues, like problems with self-confidence, bad grades, isolation from family, and experimentation with substances or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Teens that are victims of gossip are also at risk for depression and suicide.
How to Deal with Gossip
Parents hurt when their children hurt so it’s hard for parents to watch their teens experience these terrible situations. Parents don’t always know what to do to help the teens that won’t annoy them or make things worse. Here are a few tips for helping teens that are going through a period with gossip.
Let Teens Validate their Feelings
Let your teen vent all the frustration about the situation they are feeling. Tell them that gossiping is another form of bullying but verbally. Tell them they are a great person to help them hold on to their self-esteem.
Find a Solution
Try and find out the names of the teens involved that are spreading gossip and rumors about your child. Find out what they are saying and the reason they are saying this. If you start at the beginning, you get to the root of the information so this can be cleared up easily and you can understand why this situation happened. This way you will find out what the best way to help your teen deal with this gossip that is happening.
Contact the School
If the gossip is happening on school grounds, contact the principal and arrange a meeting for help on this matter. If the gossip happened online, print copies of the messages and take them to the meeting and show them to the school principal or administrators.
People think about getting revenge when they have been hurt, but this only makes the bullying worse, so tell your teen to be positive and hold their heads high. Make sure you keep reinforcing they are a good kid so they keep their self-confidence.
Teach your Teen to be Assertive
All teens need to know how to stand up for themselves and have confidence when doing so. You can work on a speech that your teen can say to people who are involved in the gossip and continue to bully them or say mean things. Stand up to them, they will back down if your teen is assertive. Don’t confuse aggression with the assertion.
Try and distract your teen with a shopping trip, movie or something to get their minds off of the situation. Dwelling on gossip only makes them angrier. Try to get them interested in different activities, go on a mini vacation or let them have a friend spend the weekend to help them not think about the situation.
Ask your teen to look for friends who seem to be loyal and don’t believe in gossiping. Teens should be around positive kids their age that doesn’t find gossiping amusing. Talk to your teen about doing the things that interest them and help them gain more confidence. Your main goal is to get your teen to focus on themselves and be positive, gain confidence and believe in themselves.
Help is Available
If your teen is showing signs of emotional distress it’s time to get them some therapy. The majority of teens are patient enough to wait for the gossip to fade away, but some teens dwell on it. Even some teasing can take an emotional toll on some teens so look for warning signs. This might be sudden eating disorders, self-mutilation, anxiety, or other issues you are worried about. As parents make sure your home is supportive, safe and has an encouraging atmosphere for your teen. If they are really depressed, it’s time to seek out professional help for signs of mental health issues.
A good piece of wisdom to pass down to your teen is to tell them to be careful about what they say about people and to whom. This is how gossip and rumors start when private information is shared and becomes misconstrued. If someone tells your teen something private, they are trusting your teen with private information so if they can’t be loyal and keep a secret. Then they are asking for trouble and are also hurting a good friend. This also includes, texts, emails, or any form of social media can be the cause for rumors to start. This can ruin many lives for a long time when something private gets out and the story becomes stretched. It’s something like the game of telephone, every child has played that game and when the original secret is out in the open, the whole context has changed. This is the same when information passes through many minds and becomes gossip. Remember to tell them to think before they put anything in writing out of anger because that is something they can never take back.