Dealing with Bullies

It's just about time to head back to school and while many of us (parents) are looking forward to some extra free-time, returning to school obviously comes with stressors as well.  Aside from the usual homework tensions, concerns about grades, and morning tardiness issues, many children are often faced with the all-too-common threat of being bullied.  Here, I hope to offer some words of wisdom for you to pass onto your children in order to help them deal with the spectre of bullying (while you also try to stay calm yourself). 1. Tell someone.  Remember you are not alone.  There are many people who want to and can help.  Whether you think your problem is big or small, reach-out to someone you trust. 2. Stay calm when confronted by a bully.  Being bullied is usually frightening, which is the exact thing that bullies hope that you'll feel.  It makes them feel powerful and in control.  Try to keep your body relaxed and BREATHE. 3. Keep eye contact with the bully, but try not to stare.  This helps you to seem confident, even if you don't feel that way.  It also lets you be aware of where the bully is. 4. If you are alone, get help.  If others are with you, send them to get help.  Hanging with a group of friends at recess and lunch will also make it less likely that the bully will single you out. 5. Distract the bully.  This may seem hard, but if you get the bully talking or laughing at something you say, it may defuse the situation.  The "and" method can be a good tool to use.  Every time the bully says something say, "and..." in order to keep the bully talking. 6. Try using reason.  Make "I" statements to the bully to let him or her know how you feel about what's happening.  Also let the bully know that you won't stay quiet about whatever happens. 7. Lastly, don't blame yourself.  Bullying is not acceptable no matter what the actual issue may be.  This includes cyber-bullying too. I was bullied myself from age 11 to 13.  Back then (the late 70s), bullying was not addressed the way it is today.  (Eventhough it is still a problem now, unfortunately.)  Thankfully, today there is much greater awareness and support for children who are being bullied. Have a great and safe school year! Dr. S