Teaching Your Kids How To Deal With Bullies

02 Jan 2014

Teaching Your Kids How To Deal With BulliesIn this week’s Parsha, Moshe could not stand by and watch his Jewish brothers suffering. He took matters into his own hands, he stood up to a bully.

It seems as if there always was and unfortunately there always will be bullies. We are often concerned about our children being bullied by others. There are some simple ways we can fortify our children against bullying.

Bullies are looking for angry, defensive and apathetic responses. We can teach our kids some healthy ways to communicate so that they can extricate themselves from these potentially harmful interactions. We want to teach children that language is their best defense against bullies. Here are some escape tactics that we can teach our children:

Bullying comment  Response Tactic Example of Response Tactic
“You’re so ugly” Assertive Statement: In a strong voice: “Leave me alone”
“You’re so stupid” Negative Assertions: Agree with the weakness and expand on it. “ I know and this is a good day for me!”
“You’re a baby” Neutral Responses: “Thanks for letting me know”
“You’re the worst soccer player ever” Crazy Response: This disarms the bully because an angry response is what they expected. Use these judiciously. “No, I have enough pencils for class today!”
“You are so smelly” “I” statements: (These should be used with people who the child still wants to maintain a relationship with. That is usually not the case with a bully.) “I don’t like when you talk to me that way!” “That hurts my feelings!”


However, we don’t want to just fortify our kids against bullies. What if there is a bullying sibling at home? We need to help the bullies as well.  Bullies should also be taught how to communicate more effectively. They have learned to bully by being bullied themselves. As parents if we see one of our children bullying another we can teach them the following skills:

  1. Perspective-taking skills: “I am sure you can imagine how it feels to be called wimpy- I bet you can see how that can hurt.”
  2. Show them gently what they have done wrong: “I am sure you didn’t mean to hurt your brothers feelings. Making fun of him in front of his friends was hurtful.”
  3. Have them make amends by doing something kind for the child being bullied: “You might want to do something nice for your brother. He was pretty upset when you took his computer time.”
  4. Teach them mediation and problem solving skills: “One of you wants to play basketball and one of you wants to play baseball.. Can you figure out a solution? Can you do that without calling each other names?”
  5. Make sure to leave their dignity intact. Focus on the negative behavior and don’t attack the child: “I love you, the problem is I don’t like when you call your siblings “stupid” or “dumb.” I know you can figure out a way to get what you need without name calling.”

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.