Bully Busting

  • Be sure your child has one or two friends -- bullies sniff out loners.

  • Explain to your child that bullies may feel jealous if you do well at something. Your success means that a bully feels like a loser.

  • Teach your child how good friends behave and that bullies are looking to be top dog, not friends.

  • Teach your child to let the bully's cruel words, looks, or gestures roll off her back and not undermine her self-esteem. Remind her that bullying behavior is immature, and suggest she picture bullies as big babies wearing diapers. Innies don't have to have their feelings hurt. Tell her: Bullies want you to feel bad, so don't give them the satisfaction. She can practice her internal voice: "You can't hurt my feelings. I won't feel little just so you can feel big." Kids appear stronger when their internal voice is an ally.

  • Tell your child to avoid groups of bullies.

  • Teach her to walk to a police station, post office, library, or other place where there are safe adults if a bully is bothering her.

  • Have your child take a karate or other type of self-defense class to gain the confidence they instill. Innies who stand tall, look self-assured, look aggressive kids in the eye, and walk with confidence are less of a target for bullies.

  • Practice dealing with bullies at home with role playing. Teach your child to look a bully in the eye and say firmly, "Stop that!" or "Don't do that. I'll report you if you don't leave me alone." Tell her not to be afraid to yell. Remember, when in doubt, shout.

  • Tell your school principal if your child is being bullied. Many schools have instituted antibully programs.

  • Tell your child that it's good to bring bullying out into the open. It lessens a bully's power.

  • Tell your child that it's okay to be scared and upset but to try not to cry in front of the bully (that's what he wants). Better to stay calm and walk away.

  • Give the kids on your child's route a healthy treat when they are walking home or they get off the bus, and chat with them in a friendly way. Bullies are less likely to torment a child whose parent has been nice to them.

  • Excerpt from the book The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child: Helping Your Child Thrive in an Extroverted World.

    Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., is a researcher, educator, author, psychotherapist, and much sought-after public speaker. One of America's foremost authorities on introversion, she speaks and leads workshops on the topic in the United States and Canada. She is in private practice in Portland, Oregon.

    Copyright © Marti Olsen Laney. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.