10 Tricks for Talking Back and Keeping Safe from Bullies
It used to be that kids would only have to face bullies on the playground or school bus. With today’s technology, kids can be bullied 24/7, day and night, leading to an increase in depression, suicide, and other mental health issues. Parents want to protect their kids, but shielding them from bullies has become an increasingly difficult task. Fortunately, there are tips you can teach your kids to help them protect themselves.
So how can kids stay safe while standing up for themselves? Here are 10 tricks to share with your children:
1. Understand why
If you have a clear understanding of why people bully, it will be easier not to take their actions to heart. Remind yourself that people often bully because they feel inadequate about themselves and pick on others to try to feel a sense of power. A bully’s words and actions have everything to do with how they feel about themselves, and nothing to do with the person they are bullying.
2. Recognize it
Being able to label what’s happening is the first step in accepting that it’s not your fault and making a plan to stop it. Know that bullying happens in several forms: name calling, intimidation, pushing or hitting, gossiping and spreading rumors, isolating you, trying to manipulate you, etc. If you suspect you’re being bullied, it’s important to act quickly. Bullies tend to “test the water” to see how much you’ll put up with, and their actions will only get worse if no one stands up to them.
3. Protect yourself online
Modern day bullies often hide behind screens but can cause serious damage to reputations and self-esteem. Protect yourself online by only sharing passwords with your parents and no one else. Think about who sees you posts - strangers? friends? friends of friends? Ensure your privacy settings only expose your posts to people you trust. Always think through what you post and consider whether it’s something that could be used to shame or humiliate you. If someone posts something mean about you, screenshot it to show a trusted adult, report it, and block them.
4. Cultivate confidence
Kids who are victims of bullying sometimes have difficulty in social situations or may be bullied as a result of rumors spread about them. Overcome these challenges by walking tall, focusing on your strengths, attempting to make new friends, and practicing positive affirmations.
“The rumors they are spreading are not true and my real friends know that.”
“I am strong and I can stand up for myself.”
Does your kid have challenges with self-esteem or making friends? Our Specialists can help. Click below to schedule your free 15-minute consultation.
5. Control your reactions
What the bully wants is a reaction – crying, yelling, etc. Avoid giving them what they want by keeping calm and ignoring them. Bullies tend to target people who come off as timid because they don’t think they’ll stand up for themselves. However, acting out in aggression can also be a problem, as it may lead to violence. The best option is to assertively tell them to stop. Believe it or not, bullies don’t think they deserve your respect, so they admire when you show self-assurance. Practice being assertive by keeping your head high and using a calm, clear voice to tell them to stop.
“Don’t talk to me like that.”
“You don’t need to do this to be cool.”
6. Laugh it off
A bully feels power when they think they are getting to you. Laughing off their actions shows that they cannot control you with bad behaviors. If possible, try to laugh off what the bully says; this will lighten the tension and take away the reaction they aim to get out of you.
Bully: “You dress like my grandma!”
Kid: “I actually borrowed this dress from her. I love her style!”
Bully: *Posts on Instagram photo of teen*: “Ew, you look like a whale!”
Teen: “Thank you, I love whales! What a compliment! #Whalelife”
7. Plan around them
While it’s important to stand up for yourself when needed, it’s also wise to avoid situations where you know you’ll be vulnerable and exposed to bullies. Block them on social media, eat lunch on the other side of the quad, or walk a different way home from school.
8. Lean on others
Bullying usually happens when adults aren’t around, so try to stay near adults when you know you’ll be in the presence of a bully. Let them know what’s going on - adults need to know when bullying happens so they can help you put a stop to it. Bullies are also less likely to confront you when you’re in a group, so ask friends to tag along when you when you know you’ll be in a bully’s path.
9. Join the movement
A group of anti-bullying warriors is a lot stronger than one mean bully! You can be a leader in preventing bullying in your school by joining a school safety committee or talking to your principal about starting one. A committee can identify where bullying is happening and create plans to stop it. They can also provide resources for kids to use if they or someone they know is being bullied.
10. Get a Specialist’s support
Being bullied can have severe effects and should not be taken lightly. It may be time to seek help from a specialist if you are experiencing any of the following:
Feeling afraid, stressed, depressed, or anxious
Having thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself
Having trouble with school work
Having problems with mood, energy level, sleep and appetite
If you don’t feel your school is doing enough to stop bullying or if you’re a parent who is concerned that your child may be the one doing the bullying, our specialists can help.
Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D. specializes in supporting teenage boys through life’s transitions. If your teenage son has been the victim of bullying or if you’re concerned that he has bullied others, Dr. Sample can help.
Dr. Elsa Torres, Psy.D., is a specialist in Diagnostic Testing and Counseling. Dr. Torres can provide counseling and effective tools to help your kid build confidence, assertiveness, and coping skills to effectively deal with bullies.
Dr. Amy E. Weir, Psy.D., is a specialist in Neurodevelopment and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Many children who are bullied have difficulty with communication and social interactions. If your child has been a victim of bullying and you think they may have autism or other challenges, Dr. Weir can guide you in supporting your child’s safety, education, and emotional well-being.
Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D., is an expert in Child and Educational psychology. If you’re concerned that your child’s school is not adequately addressing bullying, Dr. Shinn can recommend support to ensure their school takes appropriate measures to meet your child’s needs.
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How to Cite This Blog Article:
Shinn. M.M. (2019). 10 Tricks for Talking Back and Keeping Safe from Bullies. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from