Strategies to Bullyproof our Kids

Helping our children stand up for themselves is also important in the fight against bullying. As children get older, and there comes a situation where a peer is looking for someone to pick on, it is important that our children not be seen as “easy targets.”

Children who are easy targets are ones who over-react, who don’t have a good support network and who don’t speak up.

So, to bully-proof our children we need to:

Help them make friends: Some children will need more help than others to make friends. They may be shy, or they may have difficulties with communication or social skills. Teaching children how to be friends, and helping them connect with children who like playing the same things, is very important in the early years. You might also want to set children up with buddies who will play with and look out them.

Help them be resilient: I recently spoke on my blog about the “hand diagram” (Rigby, 2008). This is a visual way of helping children remember what to do when they feel threatened. Basically, it is about teaching children a series of strategies to try when dealing with bullying.

i. Ignore… if that doesn’t work

ii. Walk away … if that doesn’t work

iii. Ask nicely (Calmly asking their peer to stop) … if that doesn’t work…

iv. Say, “Stop!” (Firmly standing up to the child) … if that doesn’t work…

v. Ask for help (Only telling a teacher once they have tried to solve the problem themselves)

This may be too complex for very young children, so starting by teaching them to say, “Stop! I don’t like it!” is the first step in the process. One of the aims of my book, Dave is Brave, is to teach this skill.

A final note

When it comes to bullying in the pre-school years, it is important to keep things in perspective. Looking at behaviour with an understanding of child development and the reason why a child might be acting a certain way is important to helping us change behaviour in the long-term. It can help us change the perception that “once a bully, always a bully.”

And if we start early teaching children how to make friends, how to stand up for themselves, and how to solve their own social difficulties, we are more likely to see our children grow up to be confident, well-adjusted and resilient no matter what life throws at them.

This is the final post presented in our bullying series by Amanda of Learn to be Buddies. Should you have any questions for Amanda based on your own experiences or anything you have read in her posts, please leave a comment below.

Reference: Rigby, K. (2008). Children and Bullying: How Parents and Educators can Reduce Bullying at School. Blackwell Publishing: Victoria
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  1. Colin Wee says:

    Sometimes bullies don't back down when they know the victim is trying to de-escalate. Sometime the victim needs to escalate the situation? Turn the tables. Or at least that's what I used to think! :-)

  2. EllenaSmith says:

    The most important thing parents can do is to pay close attention to your children and encourage them to confide in you. Bullying is something that has been around well, forever so I have taught my kids on what to do and how to react if they are being bullied. The idea of my children being harmed or lost is not something anyone wants to consider. I would like to share this link, about a service on how you can protect your children. Here’s the link, it’s interesting:

  3. I have noticed teaching young children to say “Stop I don’t like it”, encourages the bully as it is giving the bully what they want.

    • What an interesting observation, Karen, I have never looked at it that way. I find that with young children in a classroom or other group setting, saying the words in a nice clear, firm voice helps to also draw the attention of supervising adults to assist with resolving the situation.

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