Anti-Bullying Month: 6 Strategies to Help Kids Defend Themselves Against Bullying


Many of us experienced being bullied at one point in our childhood. It could have been something as simple as being teased about a new haircut to something more severe where you dreaded going to school because you didn’t want to come across the person or people bullying you. Children today are exposed to a whole new level of bullying due to the Internet. October is National Anti-Bullying Month and it is recommended that children be taught tools and strategies to help them defend themselves and help intervene if possible. Michele Borba, a bullying expert, provides six strategies that children can use if they find themselves having to deal with a bully.  Ms. Borba recommends teaching these specific strategies and having  children practice them until they are comfortable saying them.


6 Strategies to Help Kids Defend Themselves Against Bullying

Here are six of the most successful strategies to help kids defend themselves, courtesy of bullying expert Michele Borba.

Assert Yourself—It is important that your child stand tall and use a strong voice when speaking to a bully. They should name the bullying behavior and tell the person to stop.  An example would be “Stop teasing me. That is mean.” Name the behavior and ask that they stop it.

Question the ResponseAnn Bishop, who teaches violence prevention, tells her students to respond to an insult with a non-defensive question: “Why would you say that?” or “Why would you want to tell me I am dumb (or fat) and hurt my feelings?”

Use “I Want.” Communication experts recommend teaching your child to communicate with the bully what they want to see stopped. Such as “I want you to leave me alone,” or “I want you to stop teasing me.”

Agree With the TeaserSome of the recommendations include having your child agree with the teaser. For example, if the teaser says something like “You’re dumb,”  your child could say, “Yes, but I’m good at it.” I believe the thinking is that by agreeing with the bully, it is giving their words no power or shows that they have no effect on you.

Ignore ItBullies love to see when their words affect or upset their victims, so by teaching your child to ignore the behavior and not let it affect them might help diffuse the situation. Some fifth graders offered these kid-tested ways to ignore bullies: “Pretend they’re invisible,” “Walk away without looking at them,” “Quickly look at something else and laugh,” and “Look completely uninterested.”

Make Fun of the TeasingThis is good advice! Fred Frankel, author of Good Friends Are Hard to Find suggests victims answer every tease with a reply, but not tease back. Frankel says the teasing usually stops because the child lets the bully know his (or her) words are not getting to them. Again, this goes back to not letting the bully think his or her words are affecting you or showing you care (even if they are hurtful).

Michele Borba says that if children who are nearby intervene and say something to the aggressor, that it can cut the bullying more than half the time and within 10 seconds.  This is pretty powerful and it is a good idea to speak to your children about the importance of not letting others get bullied if they hear someone is being aggressive towards another child.

By providing our children with some tools and strategies, we are empowering them to hopefully diffuse a situation before it escalates into something more severe. But at any time, they should feel that they can speak to an adult if they need more help in handling the situation. To read more about anti-bullying tips and strategies go to Michele Borba’s site here.


Aha Parenting

Michele Borba

Photo credit Wikipedia

What are you going to do to help spread the word about bullying?

headshot.mel.securedownload Melissa Northway, M.S. is a children's picture book author and her award-winning storybook app and book Penelope the Purple Pirate was inspired by her little tomboy. Penelope is a modern-day Pippi Longstocking who loves the color purple and adventures. You can read more at and at Melissa's new lifestyle site Dandelion Moms.
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