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Five Strategies for Dealing with Bullying


October 10, 2010 at 6:28 PM

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The goal of this event is to unite communities nationwide to raise awareness of bullying prevention. The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 kids miss school every day out of fear of attack or intimidation by other students. I’d like to share some strategies to help our local youngsters effectively and non-violently deal with bullying.

One approach for dealing with bullies is to use awareness to avoid tormenters on the playground, in the lunch room, in the hallways, and in the bathroom. By avoiding direct confrontation with bullies, youngsters can prevent the common verbal and physical attacks that occur.

Unfortunately, in most cases avoiding the bully is not a long term solution to the problem. Therefore, the best solution is to teach your child to be prepared to deal with bullying. Below are five strategies for dealing with bullies.

Strategy #1 Be assertive. Teach your child to stand tall and use a confident voice to address the bully. Your child should specify the bullying behavior and tell the antagonist to stop. For example, “Stop making fun of me!”

Strategy #2 Agree with the bully. Help your child to create a statement agreeing with his teaser. Bully: “You’re ugly.” Child: “You’re right, I am.” Along the same lines it is helpful to have a series of rehearsed comebacks such as, “So?”; “Really?”; or “Thanks for letting me know.”

Strategy #3 Ignore the teasing. The general goal of bullies is to upset their victims. Bullies will often move on to another target if they don’t get the response they are looking for. Work with your youngster to develop ways to ignore the teasing or get out of the situation. Some tactics to try include:  pretend the bully is invisible or fail to acknowledge the teaser and just walk away.

Strategy #4 Use questions. You can teach your child to respond to an insult with a non-defensive question such as, “Why would you say that?” or “Why would you want to tell me I am fat and hurt my feelings?”

Strategy #5 Act confident. Teach your youngster to carry his/herself with confidence. Bullies choose their victims based on an appearance of weakness, so teach your child to stand up straight and look people in the eye. More importantly, teach them to act confidently even when they feel nervous or intimidated.

In the case that none of the above strategies are effective or the bullying becomes physical, children should be taught how take a protective stance and say, “I don’t want to fight you, but I will if I have to. PLEASE leave me alone!” This is a very visible stance that communicates to the bully that this behavior is unacceptable and to school staff that something is happening.

Recent studies have shown that the emotional and physical consequences of being a victim of bullying are extensive and can be severe. You can take steps to break the cycle now and guarantee that your child will be bullied no more.

Rich Brugger owns and operates Karate World - Martial Arts for Life in New Providence with his wife Michelle. He is a field agent with the NSA’s Kid-Safe Network, a proactive, non-profit organization dedicated to child safety. Mr. Brugger is available for free anti-abduction training, women's personal protection seminars, and anti-bullying education for local schools and community groups. For more information visit www.BeginKarate.com or call (908) 464-2836.