We all have seen painful scenes where kids are hit, kicked and otherwise injured by a bully. But it can be stopped before it ever gets physical. Emotional bullying is far more prevalent than most people realize. It is like any other form of abuse, often leaving lifelong scars and problems. The first time should be the last time. Unfortunately, many adults do not take it seriously and shrug off the child who is trying to confide. Parents, teachers, group leaders and other people must take listen and take action when any account of emotional bullying is reported. Here are some strategies that our kids need to know and utilize to stop bullying in its tracks.
- Do not get into a back and forth conversation with a bully. He or she is much more likely to win an emotional confrontation because he/she is the one dishing out the abuse. Just leave them standing there and walk away no matter what they yell or threaten. They may be name-calling just to make the other child stop and become involved again.
Tell The Closest Adult
- Every incident of bullying must be reported. Failure to hold the bully accountable increases the likelihood that he or she will escalate the bullying and the next step may result in physical contact. If the adult does not take the issue seriously, the parent or guardian should make contact with an immediate supervisor.
- Teach children to avoid areas where known bullies hang out. Dark or dimly lit hallways, bathrooms or meeting rooms should not be entered even if it means a longer wait or walk.
- Encourage children to look before committing to a seat or room. When entering a hallway, bus or other area, children should look around and choose a seat in the front far away from any known bullies or danger zones.
- Often a well said quip or joke can deflect a bully and cause them to laugh, resulting in a change of heart. Make sure a child using this technique knows to never make fun of the bully, but to create an opportunity to remove themselves from the vicinity.
Make A Stand
- Sometimes a bully will quickly corner a victim, leaving no room for escape. This is the time to just take a stand. The bully will be looking for an opportunity to escalate the encounter into a fight. The bullied child should create as much space as possible between themselves and the bully and look them directly in the eye. This presents an air of confidence and courage.
Practice At Home
- Go over scenarios with your children and offer ideas they can use to stop bullying in it’s tracks. Practice words and phrases that your child can use in a time of need. Words such as “Stop”, “You are being mean”, “That is not cool” or “Leave me alone”, can change a dangerous situation into one where a bully will cease and consider his or her actions.
Refuse To Be A Victim
- A child should never feel he is inferior to anyone else. This type of mindset creates a defensive, even cowering, attitude and a bully picks up on those feeling like a shark. Teach him or her that one’s self worth does not depend upon another person’s opinion. Encourage children to know their value comes from within so a bully’s derogatory words cannot endanger or change who they are.
There are many ways to deal with bullying. The best way is to not allow it to get started in the first place. A parent’s due diligence can protect a child from ever having to deal with the issue, but utilizing these options can stop bullying if it has indeed begun. Remember that safety always comes first. If that means running away, a child should be prepared to do so. Some bullies are just too mean and belligerent to listen to reason. Every child should know it is okay to run for safety and that the greatest security is in the arms of a loving parent.