Being bullied can leave teens and tweens feeling helpless, vulnerable and confused. As a result, kids who are bullied are often so surprised or shocked by bullyingthat they aren’t sure what to do. But their indecision and silence actually can open the door to more bullying.
To keep bullies at bay and to prevent future bullying, kids need to know how to stand up to a bully. Aside from developing their assertiveness skills, building their self-esteem and improving their social skills, they also need practical tools on how to handle bullying situations. Here is a seven-step plan that any child can follow.
Ignore the bully. Not reacting when someone says or does something hurtful is often the most effective response. Most bullies are looking for a reaction. They want to make the target get angry or cry. And, if your child gives them an emotional response, the bullying often continues. Conversely, if your child keeps on walking with his head held high every time someone engages in name-calling or any other type of bullying, the bully will eventually move on when he realizes he won’t get a response from your child.
Tell the bully to stop. Again, bullies often don’t expect someone to stand up to them. But telling a bully to stop in a strong and confident voice can be very effective. In fact, bullies often count on finding a victim who won’t say anything at all. But if your child makes sure the bully knows he can’t just walk all over your child, he is more likely to stop what he is doing.
Make a joke or agree with the bully. Some kids are naturally funny and find it easy to laugh right along with the bully. When kids are able to do this, it demonstrates that they are sure enough about who they are, that it doesn’t bother them if other people point out their flaws. In fact, they are often secure enough to laugh right along with them. When your child laughs with the bully, it diffuses any power the bully thought he had over your child and his bullying methods become ineffective.
Avoid bullying hot spots. Sometimes all it takes to prevent bullying is to avoid places where bullies hang out. These bullying hot spots include areas like the far corners of the playground, vacant hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms and the back of the bus. Be sure your child knows where these spots are located and that he avoids them or travels with a buddy when he can.
Stick with friends. Bullies usually look for kids who are alone or socially isolated. Be sure your child knows that there is safety in numbers and hanging out with friends is a great way to prevent bullying. If your child struggles with social skills or has very few friends, take steps to help him develop friendships.
Know how to get out of a bullying situation. Talk to your child about ways in which he can defend himself against bullies, especially if the bullying is physical. For instance, be sure your child knows to keep his eye on the exit and to use it when the opportunity presents itself. Other options include making a lot of noise, attracting attention and knowing how to deflect any type of physical aggression.
Report the bullying to an adult. Be sure your child knows that the best way to prevent bullying is to report it. Without adult intervention, bullying often will continue or escalate. Make you also talk about the reasons why kids don’t tell others they are being bullied and be sure your children know that you understand their fears. Stress that while it takes a lot of strength and courage to report bullying, it is the smartest way to handle this type of situation.