Bullet-proofing kids against bullies
Is your child being bullied? Here are some tactics for dealing with this stressful issue.
Bullying can occur from Kindergarten throughout high school – and sadly even into the workplace. These practical tips from the Government’s Bullying. No Way! program can help kids of all ages.
According to the website, the key to mentally equipping our kids to deal with bullying is to arm them with coping strategies early as an important life skill.
Be proactive not reactive
While anger and frustration are instinctive reactions when you feel your child is under threat, try and stay calm and focus on developing positive solutions. Never encourage your child to retaliate physically as this will only escalate the situation. Bullying. No Way! suggests the following examples of effective and appropriate responses:
- walking away
- ignoring taunts
- going somewhere safe
- fogging – (agreeing in an offhand way with the bully by saying something such as “Whatever” to diffuse the situation)
- talking to an appropriate adult.
The program suggests that explaining bullies are often just after a reaction can help reinforce why these strategies may work.
Discuss these approaches with your child – but also set a short period of time to see if they work. If the bullying continues contact the relevant adults, organisation or authorities. Do this immediately, however, if you feel your child’s safety is at risk.
Confidence is key
You can also encourage your child to change the dynamic of their interactions with the bully by acting more confidently. While this may not be not easy for naturally shy children, some tactics that may help include:
- standing and walking more confidently
- using non-emotional responses such as "Yeah, okay", to show they’re not bothered, as engaging with bullies often only adds fuel to the fire.
If your child is being bullied electronically, Bullying. No Way! encourages them to:
- not respond to the message or image
- save the evidence
- block or delete the sender
- report the situation to the internet or phone service provider who can help block access
- tell the relevant authorities if necessary.
Bullet-proofing begins at home
Helping your child develop solid social and emotional skills is a valuable tool if they find themselves facing intimidating behaviour in the playground, classroom, at social events or, increasingly, via cyber tactics.
Even if your child isn’t being bullied, it’s a good idea to talk openly about it at home. The more children that know what constitutes bullying and unacceptable treatment of others, the better.