What is Bullying? Bullying is any form of physical, emotional, or verbal mistreatment in which one holds an unequal power over another, purposely and repeatedly with the intent to hurt or humiliate. A bully can be one tough kid harassing someone who is different in some way. A bully’s behavior can be as simple as name-calling or as serious as confrontation resulting in injury. No child is ever exempt from being picked on by a bully at some point in his life, and neither are adults. In a recent study released by the American Medical Association, it was estimated that 3.2 million children are victims of bullying each year. Being able to defend oneself when attacked by a bully requires both courage and skill – traits you can begin instilling in your child at any age.
Teach Them How Not To Be A Target. A bully’s common target is someone who demonstrates a lack of confidence and exhibits characteristics of weakness or insecurity. Teach your children to stand tall, use a full voice, look the other child directly in the eyes, and exhibit confidence when stating what they want. If your child does this, it will help to reduce the risk of being targeted by an aggressive child. You can teach this to your child by modeling it yourself. The most effective way of teaching children a new behavior is to role-play with them. Allow them to see what the behavior looks like by modeling it for them, then allowing them to practice. A child who stands, acts with and speaks with confidence is less likely to become a target of a bully.
Teach your children. Teach them that they have the power to stop anyone from touching them, hurting them, or taking their things. One of the most effective actions you can teach your child is described in many self-defense and confidence courses. Stand tall and erect, and distribute weight evenly on both feet. Hold your head high, extend their hand straight out in front of them with their flat palm toward the other child, saying “STOP!” in a loud and strong voice. A bully halted in his or her tracks by a child drawing a clear, personal, physical or emotional boundary is more likely to walk away, often even respecting a child who had represented a potential victim.
Bill Corbett is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, LOVE, LIMITS, & LESSONS: A PARENT'S GUIDE TO RAISING COOPERATIVE KIDS (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show CREATING COOPERATIVE KIDS. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse and the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and holds several degrees in clinical psychology. Bill's practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three. You can learn more about his work at http://www.CooperativeKids.com and http://www.BillCorbett.com.