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Teach Your Child How to Stand Up for Herself Against a Bully

Updated on April 12, 2012

How to Help Children

Bully - The child in school or church who likes to find passive, easy-going children to pick on.

What Kind of Kids Are These?

Ah...the Bully. Many of us have had to survive the school day without getting pummeled or called out by the Bully. Many more of us will help our children do the same thing. If you have been blessed with a passive, quiet child who is willing to bend and go with the flow, you are also likely to help her overcome an aggressive child at school who sees those traits as weaknesses.

I remember sending my oldest daughter on the school bus for her first day of kindergarten. She has always been very laid back and has always gotten along well with everyone. She was a little nervous, so I gave her a kiss. I then promised her everyone would be nice and she would have a great first day. Never in a million years did I think that statement would come back to bite me in the butt. My sweetie stepped off the bus that afternoon, looked me square in the eye and pointedly stated, "You told me everyone would be lied." I couldn't believe my ears! What type of kindergartner would be mean to another child on the first day of school?! I soon found the answer to that question. The type of child that is very aggressive (not always a bad trait). So what did I tell my sweetie? Kill them with kindness. Did that work? Not really.

Almost daily, my daughter would come home and tell me what the other child had said or done to her and it broke my heart. I finally sat her down and explained to her that some people just aren't as friendly as others. She gave me a look like I was stupid and wanted to know how that would help her tomorrow. So I taught her the great power of dealing with bully boys and bully girls. Of course there are two different methods because boys tend to be physically aggressive and girls tend to be psychologically aggressive. Unfortunately, my daughter had a boy on the bus that picked on her and a girl in her class who said mean things to her (not really, but my daughter was sensitive and took the things said to heart). I realized my daughter had to toughen up in two ways. First, don't let that little boy on the bus hit you and second, learn to ignore the things the girl in class says.

The Boy Bully

Boys bullies tend to be more physical and are more likely to push, hit, or pinch your child. If your kid is being picked on by a boy, there are several coping mechanism you can teach her. First, teach your child to avoid the bully. If that is not possible, show your kid ways she can stand up to the physical bully and appear stronger. Give her statements to use such as "You shouldn't hit, it's not nice" or even a firm "Don't touch me or my things!" Of course, that won't work for older children. Older children should find someone to pal around with that will have their back in the case of a confrontation. Bullies tend to single out kids when they are alone and will be less likely to pick on a couple of kids. If things do not get better, have your child tell a teacher or the bus driver discretely. An extra set of adult eyes is always a good way to keep kids in line. Remind your child to never get on the bully's level and resort to violence or name calling.

Don't let your child be the bully
Don't let your child be the bully

How to Support Children

The Girl Bully

First determine whether or not the girl bully is meaning to say hurtful things. In my daughter's case, the other child simply spoke her mind and had a bit of snap to her personality. Either way, give your child different ways to deal with the verbal bully. Again, teach your child to avoid the bully if possible. If it is not possible, give your child statements to use to let the bully know that she should not talk that way, such as "The things you say are mean" or "I do not like talking to you because you always hurt my feelings". Maybe the other child does not realize her statements are hurtful. For older girls, bullying usually starts due to gossip or misunderstanding of your child. The above statements do not make sense in the case of older children because the other child is truly meaning to hurt your child. The best solution then is to ignore the statements made. Tell your child not to respond with like statements and not to show emotion. If the bullying gets no reaction, the mean girl may move on to a new target. Also encourage your child to make other friends and to surround herself with a support system that will reassure her of her worth.

Final Note

Always keep a close eye on your child and her emotional state. Do not let bullying get to the point where your child feels like an outcast and hits a real low. If you realize your child is having difficulty dealing with a bully, step in and take charge. While it is important to teach our children coping skills, it is also our job to protect them. In extreme cases of bullying, some children may require counseling and intervention.


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    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      TeachableMoments, I'm so sorry it took me an eternity to reply to your wonderful comment. I hope your daughter has had a safe and friendly start to the school year. The quiet kids are always the ones I worry about as well. You want to help preserve that child's individual qualities while encouraging him or her to be assertive if necessary. Its a tricky balancing act.

    • TeachableMoments profile image

      TeachableMoments 5 years ago from California

      Thank you for such a useful hub. My daughter will be starting Kindergarten and I worry about her emotionally and socially. She's always found it hard to speak her mind during stressful situations. She never wants to be "mean." Your words really gave me useful tools to use with my daughter. I think it's so important to watch your kids closely and intervene the moment you notice something is not right. Thank you for stressing the importance of active parenting.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      nmillsblog, you make a good point when you say the bullying needs to be dealt with by the kids. I agree until that bullying oversteps a thin line and becomes abuse. Some bullies are too much for a kid to handle even with his or her peers and that is when adults should be brought into the picture. I applaud you for standing up to bullies with other kids. More students need to be like you and stick up for the little guy (or gal).

    • nmillsblog profile image

      Nicholas Mills 5 years ago

      I have seen first hand bullying, as I am still in school. I find that when the child being bullied goes their peers and not teachers or adminstration, the problem will stop very quickly. I have helped these kids confront the bullies and just letting them know that I would have tht child's back was enough to make the bully back off. Bullying starts with the children and needs to be solved by the kids. Just my two sense!

    • profile image

      Stephanie 6 years ago

      My 13 year old daughter is dealing with the psychological girl bullying at school. We have been dealing with this for months now and the school doesn't seem to recognize it and has basically told me my daughter is 'sensitive' when in fact she is just very emotionally aware of her own feelings and the feelings of those around her. She has tried 'killing others with kindness' to no avail. She is very much like your daughter and will stick up for others who are left out, picked on, etc. She extends her hand out to others who are down in the dumps as an opportunity to make someone else feel better. She has warmed my heart with her kindness and her strong emotional intelligence, but it is killing me to see how there is a lack of response from the school and the way these other girls treat her. We are working hard with trying to teach her to try and shrug it off and just ignore these other girls, but its difficult since the group of bullies seems to be increasing. We are being very proactive and watching her closely, but what do you do when you feel you have exhausted all resources...why does it seem the public schools are more willing to push out the successful, well-behaved students and house the trouble makers?

    • profile image

      Ellena Smith 6 years ago

      Bullying was once considered a childhood rite of passage. Today, however, bullying is recognized as a serious problem. As a mom I think one of the best things we can do to help prevent bullying is set a good example. And I believe that we can help our children prevent bullying before it starts by creating classroom communities in which children's love and belonging needs are met. We need to teach children how to care about each other, how to use kind words, how to support each others learning, and so on. I would like to share this link, about a service on how you can protect your children. You might find it interesting:

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hello Yes we can,

      I like your idea :) Try to be nice first and then defend yourself if necessary. Sometimes I live in a "perfect" world in my mind - I know the kill with kindness doesn't always work, especially with boys. So its a great idea to give the child other means of protection.

    • profile image

      Yes we can 6 years ago

      When the killing them with kindness doesn't work, you sign your child in self defense classes (karate or boxing) so that when theconversation turns physical, you allow your child to whoop the bully's ass. Sorry, old school methods seem to work. Plus I've found that karate builds self esteem when they start to learn it thus the "victim" doesn't come off like prey any longer.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hello wings, you're right on the money! I have an outgoing child of my own and she is one of the sweetest children I know. I will be sure to edit that statement and perhaps change it to obnoxious ;) I will think about it or even just remove it. Thank you for pointing that out to me.

    • profile image

      Wings 6 years ago

      I fully agree that we need to be proactive when it comes to bullying. Keep your kids safe and teach them to respect their peers. But I do have a concern. I don't think it is accurate to make a blanket statement that your answer for identifying a bully is "the type of child that is outgoing." The last thing we need is another stereotype pegging all outgoing children as bullies. I have known many quiet bullies, especially in the realm of verbal bullying, and they get away with it longer because they don't get caught. Also, talk to teachers sooner rather than later, especially at the younger age. As much as you might think that they have super powers and can see everything that happens in a room of 30 rowdy kids, they don't. And any good teacher will welcome your communication.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      moonlake! I wish it was that simple too. But I have heard a lot of stories of kids who stood up for themselves and then the bully ended up either a) never bugging them again or even b) becoming a friend!! Oddly though, I think kids are getting worse and worse. I don't remember ever being picked on to the point some of these kids get bullied. Its sad...

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      I went to a new school and everyday this little girl would say to me "I'm going to beat you up tomorrow." One day I got sick of it and I said "Ok, but when you do I will fight you back." She never bothered me again.

      We had 18 yr. olds picking on our 12 year old on the bus. My husband finally called them and said "Just remember your 18 now your now at my level keep picking on him and you will be seeing me." They never bothered him again.

      I wish it was that simple for all kids.

      Good hub. Voted Up.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hi Audra! Can you believe this was one of my earliest Hubs? And sadly the bullying issue has only grown over time. I am so proud of the same little girl I wrote about in this Hub - the other day she told me she played with a little girl at recess because the poor girl was crying on the swings. It turns out someone was mean to her and called her a horrible name. So my daughter thought it was the perfect time to make a new friend. omg - I almost cried! Thank you for reading this and reminding me about it - maybe I need to do some updates so it gets more traffic :)

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 6 years ago

      Ardie, you are a good Mom! I am glad you wrote this and brought it to our attention. I really like what you wrote at the end..."While it is important to teach our children coping skills, it is also our job to protect them. In extreme cases of bullying, some children may require counseling and intervention." Well done!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hopefully as long as you love him he will have high enough self esteem to stand up for himself. Its sad how many kids deal with bullying. I don't know if it would be harder being a boy with the fists flying or a girl with the gossip and nastiness. I feel for the kids today - I don't remember it being like this when I was in school. Thanks for reading :)

    • rochelj profile image

      rochelj 6 years ago from USA

      There are, unfortunately, many cases of bullying, with tragic consequences.

      My child is still a toddler, and I hope that he will know how to stand up to himself so that he is not bullied and not a bully either.

      This is very important information that you are sharing, thank you.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hello Charles, Im glad you never had to use the "extra". My littlest daughter is in tae kwon do now and she really seems to enjoy it. I figured of the 3 girls she would need the most self defense...she's so very quiet. Her teacher was telling me he only had to defend himself once against a bully in high school and he broke the other kid's nose and a couple of the kid's ribs and the teacher still feels bad about it. Ouch! But he never got picked on again :)

    • Charles S profile image

      Charles Russell Stockdale 6 years ago from UK

      At age 11 I knew I needed something "extra" to deal with bullying at school and began learning judo. Ironically I never needed to use it. I've been involved in martial arts ever since. I would recommend (any) martial art for anyone of any age as a practical antidote to bullying.

    • lahoriamplifier profile image

      lahoriamplifier 7 years ago from Lahore

      Ardie you are right

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 9 years ago from Neverland

      Hello Elena and thank you for such nice comments. When I was writing this article I kept thinking of my oldest daughter who is very passive and easy-going. Luckily she has been slowly learning to stand up for herself without being a bully too :) Now I have to work on my 4 year old who lets everyone boss her around...

    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 9 years ago from Madrid

      Hi Ardie, I am enamored of this article, from the title to your final note!

      What Goldentoad said is very valid too, bullies learned the conduct somewhere (most of the times) and I would just like to give a piece of my mind to them. Not to say a piece of the same medicine!  Ahem.

      You've got yourself a new fan and looking forward to check out your other hubs!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 9 years ago from Neverland

      Thank you vtatum! Im glad you get my sense of humor. It can be a bit dry sometimes :)

    • vtatum profile image

      vtatum 9 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA


      I like your variety of hub topics and your sense of humor. Thanks for the read.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 9 years ago from Neverland

      Amen and amen! Sometimes you need to fight like with like and the kids do indeed learn it from somewhere. Its a shame the bullies hone in on the kids that are already down or quiet. I always went out of my way in school to stop bullying if I saw it. I guess I bullied the bullies! : )

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 9 years ago from Free and running....

      I do construction projects at schools and hear the langauage and the threats by students at a very young age. I say the bully can be defeated if there is enough of a group effort to not let him do those things. Admittingly, a friend and I beat up a bully in junior high, he was sixteen(and still in junior high) and much bigger than us. He was out for about six weeks and came back a little kitten. Of course, I do not promote violence but sometimes its better to teach your child to fight back. What's worse is the parents of the bullies, because their kid learned it from somewhere. I think the parents should have to face the consequences of their kids bullying.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 9 years ago

      you are welcome,this problem is very common in school

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 9 years ago from Neverland

      Thanks, Lgali. I agree that everyone should keep an eye on their child's emotional state. I've read too many stories of kids hanging or shooting themselves over bullies. Its sad.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 9 years ago

      very useful info

      I like this

      Always keep a close eye on your child and her emotional stat

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 9 years ago from Neverland


      I am so sorry about your son. I think bullying is a trend we can stop if enough parents watch what their children are doing to other children.

    • profile image

      edaducha 9 years ago

      Bullying really can get out of hand, out of control. My son committed suicide. Don't let this happen to your child. We must do everything we can to stop the bullying and mobbing and gangstalking. Keep spreading the word. Let's fight this bullying together.


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