Bullying incidents can be gut-wrenching as children are picked on, tormented or driven to desperate acts such as self-harm or suicide. That’s why it is crucial that parents equip their kids on how to handle bullies. This includes teaching them how to respond to a bully.
How to handle bullies: What should your child say to one?
It’s important that your child should know what to say to a bully. Here are a few things they can say:
- Use closed statements. For example, “Well, that isn’t a good thing to say.”
- Use a sarcastic tone. For example, “Thanks for telling me that!”
- Be firm and convey that you won’t take nonsense. For example, “I’m not going to stand for this!”
- Show empathy to other kids who face bullying. You may teach them to say, “Let’s hang out together.”
- Use emotionless statements. For example, if the bully is criticising your child’s clothes, your child can just respond, “Knock it off.”
- Saying “no” is important. For example, if your child is in a situation where a mean kid is asking them to do something that they don’t want to do, teach them to say “NO!” until this message is clear to the bully and they back off.
- Use fogging. Fogging is a method where you teach your child to pretend they are surrounded by a bubble or fog that swallows the hurtful words before touching them. So, for example, if your child faces an insulting comment, teach them to say, “It’s possible,” or “That’s your opinion.”
- Use assertive statements. For example, “I don’t have time for this.”
How to handle bullies: Negative impact of bullying on kids
An advocacy group called Stomp Out Bullying shares that every seven minutes, one child gets bullied on a playground. Furthermore, child psychologist Sheryl Ziegler based in Denver says that every day 160,000 U.S. children choose to stay at home because they are afraid of being targeted. Ziegler shares: “Kids often don’t know what to say, so they stand there, frozen.”
A bully may use hitting, kicking and pushing to hurt other kids. They may also name-call, tease or scare their victim.
Leaving a kid out of a group is also a way of bullying the child. Such things can make the other child feel emotionally hurt, scared, lonely, embarrassed and sad.
The stress of dealing with such situations can make them feel sick. Moreover, it can also impact their social life. For example, they may not want to go to school.
Left unaddressed, bullying can have a negative impact on the reputation of the school or any other organisation where bullying incidents take place.
How to handle bullies: Understanding why bullies behave the way they do
1. Seeking attention
Picking on other kids can make a bully feel powerful and the centre of attention. Many bullies believe that it can help them become popular as it helps them feel important.
2. Effect of their survival environment
Many times bullies have a family background where they witness a lot of anger and shouting. So, it is natural for these kids to feel that this is normal behaviour. They may also be copying the behaviour that they are seeing around them.
3. Lack of empathy
Many times the bullies don’t even realise that their behaviour may cause a deep impact on other tender minds. They don’t understand that their actions can be hurtful to others. At times they don’t even care about others’ feelings.
How to handle bullies: Kids they may pick on
While most of the time bullying may happen for no reason at all, bullies may pick on kids who they feel can be easily overpowered.
Here’s a quick list of the general characteristics of kids who bullies tend to pick on:
- Kids who are easily upset
- Kids who cannot stick up for themselves
- Smarter children
- Children who are different
How to handle bullies: More useful tips
- Avoid the bully.
As much as possible, staying away from bullies is the best approach. When you know that a certain kid in your child’s class has such tendencies, help your child stay away from them. Obviously your child will have to go to class every day, but maybe they can avoid the route that this bully kid takes.
- Be brave.
Even showing that you are brave may put off a bully. So teach this quick fix tip to your child. Tell him that if someone attempts to put them down, they should just continue standing tall, absolutely unperturbed by the harassment. This will help your child to send a message that no one should mess with them.
- Feel good about yourself.
Teach your child to value themselves for who they are. Talk to them about their good qualities so that it helps them really feel good about who they are. When your child learns self-worth, they will themselves understand the importance of standing up for their dignity.
- Be a friend first:
Teach your child how to make friends and hang out with them. Tell them the importance of helping other kids during bullying incidents. Explain to your child that together with their friends, they can stop the bully from picking on others.