How To Defeat a Bully Without Fighting

Bullying Hurts Everyone

When it comes to bullying, there is no shortage of information for you to find. One quick search on Google returns over 11 million hits on the term stop bullying. Just as quickly, looking at most of the information isn’t very useful. A lot of the websites talk about and give generic advice on how to stop a bully – giving advice like “Talk to your child about bullying. Help them understand what bullying is.”

I don’t know about you, but in my 25 years of working with children, most kids don’t remember much of what their parents told them yesterday and when confronted by the threat of bully, are even less likely to recall a conversation about the possible reasons why the bully is picking on them.

So enough is enough. It is time to take a stand and give kids the tools to actually stop a bully in his tracks without having to fight. Knowledge is power so let’s empower our kids to protect themselves – and their friends. With a few simple to use techniques, your child can feel safe and not have to worry about being bullied because they will know how to stop it.

When I meet with a child and their parents to discuss the situation and learn how I can best help this child, there are a few mistakes that I hear from the parents. While they mean to help, they are in fact, making their child feel worse. I will hear them say things like, “Why do you let them push you around? / Why did you let me take your things?” Your child is not likely able to answer this question and can now begin to feel like you believe that they made a mistake. They already feel bad, try not to make it worse by asking questions like, “Why didn’t you…”

Here are a couple of my most powerful techniques that I teach kids to stand up against bullies.

#1 – Stand up for yourself verbally. I give kids one or two sentences to say to the bully that when said correctly, will stop him dead in his tracks. Correctly means without sarcasm or put down – both of which will make the situation even worse. These have to be statements and they are said in a matter of fact way. Example: Bully: “You sure are stupid!” Child: “Yes, I am entering a stupid contest next week and I plan to win!”

This statement works for a couple of reasons. First, it confuses the heck out of the bully so he has to stop and try to understand what the child just said which prevents further aggressive behavior. Second, it stops the argument before it begins because the child is agreeing with the bully so there is nothing more to fight about.

The second part of the process is to teach the child how to leave the situation. When I speak to kids, I am amazed at the number of times the child did not think about leaving the situation, or felt that they could not leave the situation. Once you have agreed and used your statement, get the heck away from the bully in a calm walk.

I have yet to ever have a child return after I teach them this technique and say it did not work. I make sure I don’t just tell the child this technique. I work with them step by step, and then we practice it together for a short while, and then they practice with their parents with me watching and make any necessary corrections. So, by the time they are in the bully situation, they are comfortable in using the technique.

#2 – Involve the crowd. In many cases of bullying, there are at least a handful of kids watching what is going on. I teach children that the crowd can become one of their best weapons to stop the bully. This is a great technique because it changes the dynamic of situation from a You vs. the bully to several people vs. the bully. In most cases, the bully will not like those odds.

Involving the crowd does take some skill because the child has to do their best to stay calm, and be able to think on their feet. The good news is that with some practice, I have had kids as young as 6 years old use this technique successfully. If you notice a group of people gathering to watch the bully abuse you, you can take what they say, and ask someone in the crowd for confirmation. Then again, another person, and another. Soon, you will have a handful of people on your side to help against the bully. Here is how the situation could happen:

The bully approaches you on the playground and all of your classmates have heard what is going to happen so they are gathering around to see what is going to happen. The bully says, “You are so stupid. I can’t believe how stupid you are!” To involve the crowd, you would turn and look at someone in the crowd and say, “Bobby, can you believe that. He said I was stupid. Hey Tom, did you hear that. I guess I am stupid.”

While you are pulling the crowd into the situation, you are also beginning to walk away from the bully. Just as with technique #1, this will leave the bully confused and the child to leave safely – which is the true goal in my mind.

These are a couple of the empowering techniques that I teach kids who are being bullied. Please feel free to take them, share them and use them with your children. If you have a child who is being bullied and you would like my help to getting them to leave your child alone, I am happy to help. You don’t have to be a karate student to get my help. I am here to make our schools and community a truly Bully Free Zone, so all you have to do is ask, and I will help your child feel safe again.

 Here is a documentary that I was asked to take part in about bullying. I was honored and happy to help. Watch it and please share with anyone you know that would like help in standing up to a bully.

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