Preface: Before I start I want to say that this is a personal issue for me because I was bullied from 5th to 9th grade. I have also worked with students who were bullied and students who bullied others. You may not agree with all these suggestions and I know there are other avenues we can take to attempt to end bullying. I also realize that this is a very sensitive issue for many and I don’t have all the answers. Please share your own suggestions below so we can all come together on ideas for what might help.
Here are some basic strategies children can use to handle bullying at school, on the playground, online, etc. As I stated in part 1 of this series, confident kids who believe in themselves are less likely to be targets to bullies and less likely to be affected by bullies. Children who believe in themselves, feel valued, and have a strong support system at home already have a natural defense against bullies. However, all children would benefit from learning the tips below.
This is part 2 of a series. Please see How to End Bullying Part 1: 19 Tips for Parents and Teachers
8 Ideas for Kids to Combat Bullying
1. Walk away from the child who is bullying.
2. Be assertive and say “You are being mean. I am leaving” in a calm but firm tone. Then walk away.
3. Change the subject on the child who is bullying – Here is an example:
Kid 1: You are so dumb and no one likes you
Kid 2: I wonder what we are doing in gym today
4. Smile and shrug your shoulders when someone makes a mean comment to you.
5. Seek out friendly children to build friendships with.
6. Try to stay in groups of two or more so you are not alone if a bully approaches you (If you are worried that your child is alone at school and not making friends, talk to the administrators and guidance counselor to see if your child can be paired with a buddy who may also be having trouble making friends).
7. To prevent bullying on the internet, make any social media profiles private and only accept connections with people you know and trust. If anyone starts bullying you, delete and block that person from your connections and tell an adult. Do not respond to the person bullying you online. If you are being bullied online through other people’s social media profiles, immediately tell an adult.
8. If your child/students ever feel like they need help from an adult (for example, if they are scared or if the bullying is not stopping) let them know it is okay to tell someone what is happening.
Children are often scared to tell someone that they are about being bullied because they think it will make it worse if the bully finds out. The adult does not have to tell the bully that the child told on them. There are ways to address the bully without mentioning the victim. For example, tell the bully that teachers, parents, or kids have seen the behavior. Don’t mention anyone specific.
Let your children/students know that they can help stop bullying and that it is admirable to try and do so. Here are 7 suggestions you can give to kids to help others:
1. Get the child away from the bully by inviting him to join you. For example, if Johnny is being picked on and called names, walk over to him and say “Hey, do you want to come play tag with me.”
2. Tell the child being bullied that their teacher is looking for them (making up a reason for them to escape).
3. Make statements to get the bully to stop. Examples include: “a teacher is coming”; “stop, you’re going to get in trouble”; “Why are we standing around watching this? Let’s go!”; “you’re being mean.”
4. Never join in any bullying.
5. Do not stand around watching bullying.
6. If you know a child is being bullied, ask them how they are doing and remind them that it is not their fault.
7. Tell an adult if they see someone or know someone is being bullied. This is not considered tattling because you are trying to keep someone safe.
Check out this amazing video with tips from a 12 year-old on how to handle a bully!
See Part 1 of This Series: How to End Bullying Part 1: 19 Tips for Parents and Teachers
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them. For Rachel’s top behavioral strategies all in one place, check out her book, Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children, a Guide for Parents and Teachers.