Tips for dealing with bullying and cyber-bullyingThere is no single solution to bullying and cyber-bullying. It may take some experimenting with a variety of different responses to find the strategy that works best for your situation. To defeat a bully, you need to retain your self-control and preserve your sense of self.
Tip #1: Respond as bullying is happening
- Walk away. Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions so don’t react with anger or retaliate with physical force. If you walk away, ignore them, or calmly and assertively tell them you’re not interested in what they have to say, you’re demonstrating that they don’t have control over you.
- Protect yourself. If you can’t walk away and are being physically hurt, protect yourself so you can get away. Your safety is the first priority.
- Report the bullying to a trusted adult. If you don’t report threats and assaults, a bully will often become more and more aggressive. In many cases adults can find ways to help with the problem without letting the bully know it was you who reported them.
- Repeat as necessary. Like the bully, you may have to be relentless. Report each and every bullying incident until it stops. There is no reason for you to ever put up with bullying.
Tip #2: Handle a cyber-bully
- Do not respond to cyber-bullying messages. The bully wants to feel in control of your emotions, so the best response is no response.
- Document cyber-bullying. Save and print out emails, text messages, or screenshots.
- Block the cyber-bully on your phone, IM list, websites, or social media pages. Report inappropriate messages to an Internet service provider or website moderator; report threats to the police.
Tip #3: Reframe the problem of bullying or cyber-bullyingBy changing your attitude towards bullying you can help regain a sense of control.
- Try to view bullying from a different perspective. The bully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
- Look at the big picture. Bullying can be extremely painful, but try asking yourself how important it will seem to you in the long run. Will it matter in a year? Is it worth getting so upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
- Focus on the positive. Reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. Make a list and refer to it whenever you feel down.
- Find the humor. If you’re relaxed enough to recognize the absurdity of a bullying situation, and to comment on it with humor, you’ll likely no longer be an interesting target for a bully.
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—including the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to bullies.
Tip #4: Avoid isolationHaving trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will boost your resilience when being bullied. Reach out to connect with family and real friends (those who don’t participate in bullying) or explore ways of making new friends. There are plenty of people who will love and appreciate you for who you are.
- Find others who share your same values and interests. You may be able to make friends at a youth group, book club, or religious organization. Learn a new sport, join a team, or take up a new hobby such as chess, art, or music.
- Share your feelings. Talk to a parent, counselor, coach, religious leader, or trusted friend. Expressing what you’re going through can make a huge difference to the way you feel, even if it doesn’t change the situation.
- Boost your confidence. Exercise is a great way to help you feel good about yourself, as well as reduce stress. Punch a mattress or take a kick boxing class to work off your anger.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t make a bullying incident worse by dwelling on it or replaying it over and over in your head. Instead, focus on positive experiences you’ve had.