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Helping your child deal with bullying
- First, help teach the child to avoid being an easy target. Start with posture, voice, and eye contact. These can communicate a lot about whether you are vulnerable. Practice with a mirror or even videotape.
- Role Play. Just as in prevention of child abuse, role-play is what makes the skills real. Actually walk through situations and have your child practice different responses. Discuss prevention techniques such as staying with other kids. Do not get involved with bullies in any kind of interchange. Do not take it personally; it is really the bullie's problems that are causing the situation, not you.
- Tell your child to avoid isolated places where no one can see or hear him/her. He/she should learn to be vigilant for suspicious individuals or for trouble brewing.
- If bullying starts, he/she might be able to deflect it with humor or by changing the subject. He/she should run over a list of positive attributes in his/her mind. This reminds him/her that he/she is worthy of something better than bullying behavior.
- Teach your child not to obey the commands of the bully. Often it is better to walk away than to comply.
- The parent may help the child make friends that are positive. If he/she sticks around with a group, he/she is less likely to be a target.
- Finally, if the child sticks up for other children he/she sees being bullied, people may get the idea that he/she is not someone who tolerates bullies.
- The child must learn to discriminate the difference between social bullying and more threatening situations that are more dangerous physically. If he/she is in an isolated place and truly feels physically threatened, he/she should give the bully the item demanded. However, if someone is demanding that he/she get into the car of a stranger, he/she should resist with as much force as possible. Once he/she gets away, he/she should notify a responsible adult as soon as possible.