The start of the school year is just a few weeks away, and a Mayo Clinic expert said that may be especially stressful for kids that have been victims of bullying in the past.

Mayo Clinic Children’s Center psychologist Dr. Bridget Biggs said bullying comes in many forms: physical, verbal, emotional, social and online.

She said parents and caregivers should know the warning signs. “If your child is reluctant to go to school, stressed after spending time online or avoids social situations, he or she may be being bullied,” Biggs explained.

Dr. Biggs pointed out that consequences of bullying can be serious, and parents should ask their child pointed questions about their wellbeing, including, “‘Have you ever had any thoughts of hurting yourself in any way? Have you ever had any thoughts of wanting to die?’ Asking those questions is a good thing to do.”

She said some parents worry that asking those questions could put the idea into their child’s head, but research has shown that most teens battling suicidal thought feel relief after the issue is raised.

Dr. Biggs shares these tips for parents and caregivers on how to help children who are victims of bullying:

  • Talk it out – Ask your child about concerns.
  • Learn – Get information from your child about what’s happening.
  • Take notes – Record details of bullying events.
  • Discuss how to respond – Walk away. Get help from trusted adult or peer.
  • Build self-esteem – Encourage your child to get involved in positive activities.
  • Team up – Reach out to teachers.