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How Your Child Can Stand Up to a Bully

You know how to watch for cyberbullying. You can help your child when they’re being cyberbullied. But how can you equip your child to handle bullying when they’re confronted with it out in the real world? Here are some skills your child can use to stand up to a bully.

Create a Network

Bullies like to make their victims feel isolated. By fostering a network of friends, teachers, and other trusted adults, your child won’t feel like they’re alone.

Be a Self-Advocate

Bullies like to strike when there’s no one else around or if they can do so in a way that adults present won’t notice. Tell your child that adults don’t always know everything that’s going on and teach them that they need to speak up for themselves. If they have been bullied, they need to be able to tell an adult what has happened and how it makes them feel.

Use Assertive Language

Giving bullies no response can encourage them to bully more. Teach your child to respond to bullying with assertive language. Assertive language tells a bully to stop in a simple and direct way. Consider these examples: 

Bully: Get out of my way, ugly.

Response One: Yeah, sure, okay.

Response Two: You get out of my way, jerk.

Response Three: Don’t threaten me, Mark.

Response one is not effective because it just gives the bully what they want. The second isn’t good either, because it’s emotional and stoops to the bully’s level. Three is the best because it’s simple, direct, and instructs the bully to stop.

Don’t Let Bullies Redefine What They’re Doing

Some bullies like to defend their behaviour by saying things like “I was just being honest” or “I’m just teasing”. Part of the reason the third response is good is because it calls a threat a threat.

Call a Bully By Their Name

Response three also uses the bully’s name. Saying a bully’s name is good assertive language. When your child uses their bully’s name, they’re letting the bully know that they are equal to the bully. They’re also saying that the bully is responsible for the threat the bully has made.

Use Body Language

Your child’s body language can be a powerful tool against bullying. Assertive body language includes maintaining eye contact, keeping a calm voice, and maintaining an even distance from their bully. Bullies want to get under their victims skin. Looking away, shouting, shaking, or getting in their bullies face is what the bully wants.

The Bottom Line

We aren’t suggesting that your child needs to handle bullying all on their own. After all, you are your child’s biggest advocate. But you won’t be around all the time. And learning to stand up for one’s self is an important part of growing up. By standing up to bullying, your child will gain confidence and be even more resistant to bullying in the future.