For over 30 years, I have worked to help kids become happier, healthier, and more confident. In that time, I have learned quite a few things about bullying.
When I set out to create my book “Bullying is a Pain in the Brain,” as well as the companion movie by the same name, I knew I had to talk to those being affected most: kids! I listened to kids tell me their stories about what it was like being bullied and how painful it was at times. Using their stories, as well as my experience, I worked to create lots of tools kids can use when it comes to bullying, some of which, I will share with you today.
When it comes to “bullying” there are two myths that I need to bust for you.
Myth 1: Bullies are people with low self-esteem, which is why they pick on people.
In reality, bullies may often have have high-self esteem and a good amount of confidence. They don’t bully to feel better about themselves, but instead to gain more power and control.
Myth 2: If you ignore bullying, it will stop.
While this might work in some scenarios, most of the time, the bully becomes angrier and may even feel provoked. There is no use in further angering an already angry bully.
With those myths busted, it’s time to create what I like to call “bully-proof” kids! Here are five things to tell your kids when dealing with a bully.
Refuse to believe anything a bully says about you. If you are being called names, or having rumors spread about you, it can be difficult to not start believing all that is being said. Here’s the thing though, bullies want to get under your skin, it makes them feel powerful. By believing their words, you are actually giving them the power they want.
Revenge isn’t the answer, humor might be. Getting revenge is never a good idea. If you start treating the bully the same way they treat you, by spreading rumors or excluding them, you are also becoming a bully. Instead, try defending yourself with humor. I know whenever a bully said something mean to me, or threaten to hurt me, I would try cracking a joke. A simple joke could make the bully laugh and decide to leave you alone. Hey, if it worked for me, it can certainly work for you!
Look confident. Kids like to bully those who are quiet, shy and even younger or smaller than them. One of your best defenses is working on looking more-sure of yourself, more confident! Looking more confident is easy. Take a deep breath, hold your head high, shoulders back, maybe even throw in a smile, and before you know it you’ll look and FEEL more confident!
Trust your gut. You know better than anyone what you are comfortable doing in a situation. There are times when your gut will tell you to stand up for yourself, to speak up. Other times, your gut feeling will be to walk away or tell a trusted adult. Whatever the case may be, trust yourself.
You are not alone. It may feel like it’s you against the bully, but it doesn’t have to be. You have friends, teachers, and families who are willing to help you stay safe and support you against your bully. Also, don’t forget that you aren’t the first person to be bullied, and you certainly won’t be the last. Don’t be afraid to turn to those who have been through what you are going through for advice and guidance.
Every kid will face bullying at some point in their life. The key thing to remember, when it does happen, is that there are solutions and it can be stopped. By empowering your kids, and giving them the right tools to succeed, it won’t be long before they are bully-proof!
Trevor Romain’s latest book, “Connecting with Kids in a Disconnected World,” is out now.
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