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Bullying

Boy looking at computer screen with worried look on his face

PROTECTING KIDS FROM BULLIES

Dr. Heather C. Huszti, CHOC’s chief psychologist, says one of the best ways to protect your children from bullying is to talk to them with open-ended questions and help them come up with an appropriate response. Look for opportunities in the news and ask your kids to comment. “Don’t wait for your kid to be a victim. Have a discussion about why some kids might be bullies,” she says. If you learn your child was bullied at school, inform school officials. Schools have an obligation to handle it and if the school doesn’t respond, tell the school district office staff. Also, Dr. Huszti suggests, “Consider talking with the bully’s parents about their child’s behavior. In some cases that works well because the parents aren’t aware.”

WHEN YOUR CHILD IS THE BULLY

Dr. Huszti advises parents to head off this behavior in advance. “Ask your children how they would feel when someone says something mean to them, so they identify that early on. Ask, ‘How do you think that affects the other person?’ Set clear expectations and say, ‘In our family, that’s not our values.’” If your child continues to bully, set consequences, Dr. Huszti says. If your child is accused, she says, “Don’t offer a knee-jerk defense. Ask for more information so you can understand what is going on. Bullies also have a higher rate of suicide. It’s in the parents’ best interest, if their child is bullying, to stop that behavior. It’s usually coming out of a place of pain, not strength. It’s a warning sign to take seriously.”

CYBER BULLYING

Cyber bullying can include posting mean comments on a social networking website or sending hurtful emails or texts. Cyber bullies can torment others anonymously and sometimes the recipient doesn’t know who is doing this. Dr. Huszti suggests talking with your children about what to do if they encounter a bully online. “Teach kids about it upfront. Let your kids know you will monitor things, especially if they are starting to get on social media,” she says.

Meet Dr. Huszti - Expert in Pediatric Psychology

Dr. Huszti is section chief of CHOC Children’s Pediatric Psychology. She also is the director of training for the psychology training program at CHOC. Dr. Huszti completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in family therapy from Texas Tech University. She completed an internship and fellowship at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Dr. Huszti’s areas of interest include pediatric psychology and helping children with medical disorders.

Dr. Huszti’s philosophy of care: “I believe that families have the best expertise about their child. I partner with both the child and their family to identify the issues we want to work on and come up with a plan of treatment that fits the child and family.”

EDUCATION:
PhD in Clinical Psychology from Texas Tech University

Dr. Heather C. Huszti

Dr. Heather C. Huszti
CHOC Chief Psychologist

Preventing Suicide in Children

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24, which underscores the importance of recognizing depression and warning signs in youth, CHOC Children’s chief psychologist Dr. Heather Huszti says.

Learn about the signs that a child may be considering suicide, such as irritability, sadness, social withdrawal, and changes in sleep and appetite which are indicators of depression.

Teen girl in front of school lockers

Teach Your Child to be More Than a Bystander

Girl helping her friend

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. While much has been shared about what to do if your child is being bullied, or what to do if your child is the bully, there is also a lot to be said on how not to become a bystander of this harmful behavior. Kids see bullying all the time. They may want to help but don’t always know how. Here are a few helpful tips, recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website StopBullying.gov, to teach your kids what they can do.

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