BullyingHurtsKidsBullying is rampant in kids’ schools. It’s estimated that HALF of kids experience stress and anxiety about school as a result of bullying, whether they’re the target of the bullying or witness it.

Is your child one of them? The truth is that most kids won’t tell their parents. It’s embarrassing.

So, what I recommend is that you take time each fall to bully-proof your kids by teaching them one of the options below, then role-playing with them so they’re prepared to fend off a bully.

Let’s define bullying first.

Bullying is when one youth (or several youth) use physical means, verbal taunts, threats, or intimidation to control or hurt others and make life miserable for another child.

Many schools do a good job of setting strict rules about physical aggression but few schools have set strict standards about “emotional aggression.”

Emotional aggression is when kids “use relationships to hurt each other and find ways to exclude a person from making friends or keeping friends. It can include sarcasm, rolling eyes, pitting friends against one another, being a friend one day and not the next, laughing at others, excluding and isolating people, spreading rumors and gossip, and name calling. (Source: Sister to Sister: The Darker Side of Friendship, Girl Scouts of the USA.)

Schools are now coming to understand that a repeated pattern of mean, hurtful words can be just as damaging (or worse) as physical aggression to a child.

Let’s start with recognizing what bullies want. Why is this important? Telling your child what the bully wants can help your child to gain some of their power back and can help you strategize on how to handle the problem.

Goals of the Bully:

1) The bully wants power. Have your kids focus on ways that they can be powerful and not let the bully take their power away! Have them visualize their power as a big red ball that they’re holding and the bully is trying to take the ball away. Your child needs to hold on to their “power ball” by using one or two of the strategies listed below.

2) The bully wants to get your child in trouble. For some kids, this will be a powerful motivator to grit their teeth and say, “No! I don’t want to get in trouble!”

3) The bully wants an audience. Your child should speak quietly, yet assertively, instead of yelling. Your child should leave if a crowd’s gathering.

4) The bully is trying to feel superior by putting your child in a one-down position. You’ll teach your child strategies on how to equal the playing field.

So, whether or not your kids have told you that they’re being bullied, share some of the strategies below and have your kids pick one or two strategies that they feel comfortable with and then practice, practice, practice.

It’s very important that you let your kids pick the strategies. Remember, their power is being taken away from them so you want them to feel empowered. Also, the strategy has to fit their personality.

Options Your Child Can Use To Overcome Verbal Bullying:

1) Use the C.A.L.M. method recommended by Michele Borba:

C: Stay calm. Don’t let the bully see that you’re upset.
A: Be assertive. Tell the bully, “Stop that! I don’t like it when you call me names!”
L: Look the bully in the eye.
M: Use a strong voice so the bully knows that you mean it. Then walk away.

2) Use humor. Teach your child a joke. Your child will catch the bully off-guard if he uses it when he’s bullied.

3) Say something unexpected. For instance, your child could say “thank you!” to a mean statement.

4) Change the subject. Instead of responding to the cutting remark, your child could say, “It’s a beautiful day outside, isn’t it?” or “Did you see the Twins game last night?” These statements will also catch the bully off guard and if your child does this several times in a row, it’s likely the bully will give up because she didn’t get the response she was looking for.

5) Ask the bully if s/he is mad or upset about something? Perhaps the other child is upset with someone else and is just taking it out on your child? By listening to the bully, your child could end up being a good friend.

6) Find someone else to play with. In cliques, sometimes it’s the so-called “friend” who’s making the cutting remark. Your child has the option of trying to stay away from kids who are mean to her.

7) Ignore the name calling and walk away. Have your child think of two reasons he’s NOT a “dummy” as a way of rebuilding his own confidence. Have your child repeat these positive statements whenever he’s called a name.

8) Own the problem. Have your child ask herself, “Is what they’re saying true? “ If it is, the child could just agree. “Yes. I wear glasses. I do have four eyes!!”

9) Tell the other child how she feels. “I feel hurt and mad when you call me names. Calling me a dummy doesn’t make me one.”

10) Ask for help. Look for the adult in charge and tell the adult what just occurred. Ask them to help find a peaceful solution.

11) Cry. Sometimes it just feels good to let the hurt out, but do so in private.

12) Talk about it with someone they care about. Have your child identify one other caring adult he can confide in, in case he doesn’t want to talk to you.

13) Give the bully permission to say what they want. Your child can respond, “It’s a free country. You can say whatever you want!” And then walk away.

14) Compliment the bully! Your child could respond with, “I really like the shoes you’re wearing! Where did you get them?”

So now you have 14 different options that you can teach your kids to use so they can get back in the driver’s seat!

One word of caution, you should prepare your kids that they’ll probably have to use these strategies more than once. The bully will continue to try to taunt your child until they’re convinced that your child won’t respond. In other words, it may get worse before it gets better.

Just remember to practice the strategies so your child can remember what to do in the heat of the moment and let them know that you’ll be a great listener anytime that they want to talk about any bullying incidents at their school.

“To get a free copy of “3 Essential Strategies to Get Your Kids to Listen the 1st Time” report sign up here how: www.getparentinghelpnow.com

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