By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Some children encounter bullying. It is right for parents to be sure that schools and other organizations take precautions to educate and protect children from bullying behaviors. It is also important for parents to teach children how to handle bullies and bullying.
I have taught many children and adults empowerment skills. The first step in the process is a discussion of why others bully. Typically bullies are individuals who are fearful or sad. Sadness and fear can become anger, and for some individuals it turns into aggression. Some bullies learn the behavior because other family members have bullied them.Understanding the reasons for bullying can provide understanding and compassion for the bully, but your child still needs to know what to do! These techniques can be taught to children of all ages. The words can be varied as needed.
- First, teach your child how to sit tall. Model it for them. Show them what it looks like to hold the head up, chin level with the ground, looking straight ahead, shoulders down away from the ears.
- Breathe from the power center (this is at your solar plexus – just above the navel).
- Now move this to a standing position. Demonstrate for them again. Stand tall, shoulders down. Be comfortable, not rigid and stiff. Play with the movement and the posture. Breathe into it again.
- Now practice feeling the difference. Invite them to slouch forward, looking down, shoulders forward. How does this feel? Now bring it upright again and breathe. FEEL THE DIFFERENCE?
- Walk with this posture. Stand with this posture. Sit with this posture.
- A child who looks strong, feels strong internally, too. The child who feels strong, looks strong to others. This child is not likely to be bullied.
- Teach your child about his/her assertive, big voice. Use your big voice. Let them hear the difference between a big voice and a meek or whiny voice. (Explain also how this is not an aggressive voice.) Practice with your child: “Leave me alone.” “Stop that now.” Be silly. Make it fun.
- Teach your child the importance of short, concise messages, and that it is important to deliver the message and then turn or walk away. Don’t turn away in a huff, or with a threatening manner. Just turn or walk away. Too many children wait to be heard and want to have their message validated. Would you really expect the following from the bully? “Oh my goodness; no one ever explained it that way before. Thank you so much. I’ll never bother you again.” NO. Move away.
- Your child has a responsibility to help and protect others.
- Teach your child to use their big voice and clear statements to help others.
- Help the victim to get away.
When children can only rely on others to stop the bully and to provide protection, they feel less empowered. It is important that they learn to stand up to the bully. But sometimes it is a dangerous situation, or a bully who will not stop after several strong messages. Then children should be taught to report the bully to a trusted adult who will intervene. And if that person does not validate your child or get involved, tell them to find another adult who will.
- Only become physical to the degree that it is necessary to LEAVE.
- As soon as you can get away, do so.
- Report the situation immediately.
When you teach your child empowerment you teach them to respect themselves and others. You also prepare them for healthy friendships and relationships. It is never too early, or too late, to teach these lessons. Play with the lessons; begin today.
I am available for additional strategies to assist you or your child. I also teach these skills to groups – of all ages.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
Published in Metro You Magazine, February 2011