Bullying, Self Esteem & Hypnosis

ApplenutbutterFebruary 3, 2013

Sorry this is so long. I am hoping someone here has experience with hypnosis as an aid in recovering self esteem lost through bullying. The usual pieces of advice - give the child opportunities to succeed and affirm their worth - aren't really helpful, as my daughter already enjoys a high degree of success in most all areas of her life.

So that's the essential question. She's refusing to cooperate in school-based solutions (the district now has a good bullying policy and management program) and counseling. I'd heard about hypnosis, and thought I might be able to talk her into doing that, since it would be a time-limited thing and wouldn't require her to make herself vulnerable to a therapist. I know people generally poo-poo quick fixes to deep problems, but sometimes they exist, and even if it didn't solve the whole problem, it might help her be more open to deeper work on it.

Any experience out there? Other advice?

Here's the long background, in case anyone has other insights:

My daughter A has everything going for her. She is kind and generous, straight-A smart, and model beautiful. She engages in lots of activities and is good at them - co-captain of her soccer team, avid snowboarder and although she started late (6th grade) with horses, is rapidly becoming a very good equestrian and has been committed enough to work doing barn and horse chores, first for free through the winter of her 7th grade year, then for lesson fees and such since then. Her real interest is in natural schooling and she's been learning Parelli from a neighbor and working for them in exchange. Before the recession, she did dance and piano, but those became too expensive and we had to drop them.

Now in 8th grade, she's got a great boyfriend, too, a bit older but actually more respectful and genuinely caring about her than the boys in her grade and a year above would be. He's also sweet, kind, smart honors student, good athlete, cute and popular. The kids his age had issues accepting her at first - esp. the girls - but most have come around since then.

Sounds too good be to true, doesn't it? It almost is. Outwardly and at home, she seems confident and mature. But I've been learning recently that she's actually suffering extremely poor self esteem, to the point of seriously telling her bf she doesn't believe him when he says she's pretty or smart, etc., and that if not for him, she'd probably be anorexic or cutting herself. She regularly makes him promise to never leave her bc she'd die if he did - I don't think she realizes this is emotional blackmail or how destructive it is, she's expressing her real feelings too honestly, but I'm glad it's coming out somewhere or we wouldn't know.

I think all this arises from chronic harassment and bullying through the years at school as well as a very stressful home environment through elementary school due to fostering and then adopting her sister B, who came with an alphabet soup of dx adding up to one really difficult child and us dealing with B's birthparents (family members), court, etc. B is now well-adjusted, grounded and recovered and they are very close. On top of the turbulent household, A got short-shrift many times bc we were so overextended dealing with B's problems. I was aware of this and tried to make quality time with her and made a commitment to focusing on her starting in 6th grade. Probably too little too late, though.

She and B, who are in the same grade, went to a tiny elementary school - no more than 5 girls in their entire grade at any year, usually around 10-12 boys. Not hard to be popular with those odds, and they both were, but despite all this, A suffered "low level" bullying throughout elementary school - the boys calling her ugly, or fat (again, she's always been above-average pretty and slim, fit and athletic), tripping her, kicking her, hitting her on the bus, etc. Always "joking" or "teasing," but with an edge, y'know?

This started in first grade and I suspected something was up bc she started with the classic tummy aches and not wanting to go to school. She denied being picked on, her sister denied, teacher saw nothing. Toward the end of the year, she seemed better but mentioned some of it. She didn't want me to do anything since it was almost summer. The next fall, I checked in with her a lot and she said they'd stopped. Then, again in late spring, I heard a little about it.

That pattern repeated through 6th grade, I'm ashamed to say. In addition to our on-going family troubles, the school district at the time had no bullying policy and the principal was an idiot. DD wasn't the only child bullied or harassed and by no means suffered the worst in that class - I knew for a fact that the principal had swept child on child sex abuse and violent assaults from that class under the rug - it had an unusually high proportion of mean boys. She also had a habit of trying to "mediate" bullying incidents, which is the exact wrong thing to do.

Through it all, though, A remained what seemed to be a successful, confident girl. When they got to middle school in 7th grade, both told me the harassment had stopped and things seemed to go really well for her.

This year, though, I am hearing, not from her, that it continued and is still continuing and that she feels that even if it's "joking" by her "friends," - bc now the comments have extended into her group of girlfriends as well - that it must be true or people wouldn't keep saying it. The seriousness is clear in what she tells her bf.

She refuses to go to counseling, says she doesn't need it, acts put out and resentful that I'm in her business, says everything's fine.

So, that's the story. I'm very concerned about her, esp. bc no matter how great the bf is, those relationships don't last - esp. won't last if she continues on this negative current. What to do?

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Do you have any place like the YMCA or ??? for family counseling. Sometime large medical centers have these along with some churches. Just make sure they are trained etc and with some sort of certification. She seems to have alot of activities. What does the family do as a family???? Vacations??? Relatives??? These to make a difference.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:05PM
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She is in 8th grade, you are the parent. You decide if she needs counseling and if the answer is yes then you put her in the car and take her. End of story.

Personally, I would not allow bfs or serious relationships in 8th grade. What alot of pressure for an 8th grader. I don't care if other parents allow it, if everyone else is dating, It is only my rules that apply to my kids and they do not get a choice until they have graduated from HS. Does an 8th grader really need to grow up this fast? Is that what is best for the child?

It also sounds like you are making excuses for her. As a parent, if you feel something is going on then you go in to the school, if the principal doesn't respond then you go to the superintendent, if that doesn't work then you go to the school board or the state's education dept. You keep at it until you get results.

Honestly though, except for the kicking and tripping, most of it sounds like little kids who get mad and say mean things. All kids do it, it is normal to an extent. Some kids are much more sensitive to nasty comments though and they take it very personally. The physical things would not have gone over with me. I would have taken action to have that immediately stopped.

Sometimes being the squeaky wheel works the best. Sometimes a threat of a lawsuit or a letter from an attorney threatening legal action for bullying also works wonders.

From the things she is saying, it really sounds like she is under way too much pressure. You and her Dad should be her safety net, not the boyfirend. Something is wrong with that.

Do you all do things as a family? Do you have time with no cells on? Do all of you sit down together every night and talk? Those are the things that are important. Family grounds you. I hope you can figure out some solutions to help her, she sounds overwhelmed and depressed.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Apple, I have experience with hypnosis, and it does work for bullying, but it's very dependent on the therapist. I went to a hypnotist to recover from my abusive first husband. It worked almost immediately. It helped me to realize and taught my conscious and subconscious mind that I was viewing him as an overbearing parent and myself as a vulnerable child.

So, when my daughter became the target for bullies in middle school and high school, I took her to a hypnotist. My original hypnotist was now retired.
I believe it would have worked, but the second therapist didn't use the same strategy. Instead she targeted my daughter's nightmares and introduced relaxation techniques. It did help, and the panic attacks stopped. My daughter's self esteem issues and social awkwardness persisted despite hypnosis, changing schools, AND counseling----LOTS of counseling.

My daughter is now in college, and she is better, but not back to normal... Never will be, in my opinion. You MUST take action. Girl bullying is subtle but deadly. I witnessed it, and it is shocking to see... my daughter's words never
even came close to describing how horribly hurtful it was. The teachers perpetuated it.... Believe me.... Teachers know which kids are popular, and which kids are targets, and they participate, too.

What has worked better than everything is involving my daughter in outside activities with completely different kids. My daughter went on a high school study abroad program for spring break with a neighboring high school, and that was great. I sent her for month-long summer high school programs on college campuses, including one in England to get her out of the toxic
environment and to help form new peer groups. I sent her to Saturday morning modeling classes, which also helped. I know you are thinking these
things are expensive, but bullying can ruin or kill your child, and counseling is expensive, too. Don't tolerate it, and take action. I wish you and your daughter the best.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:07AM
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