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Tips and Strategies for Managing Bullying
Bullying and other kinds of violence happen more often than we would like. Here is a quick list of strategies to manage bullies in your life.
- Talk to Someone:
First and foremost, reaching out for help is key to gaining the confidence and support to manage bullies. That does not always mean that you will be able to hide behind someone to avoid the bully. The benefit of connecting with someone is getting to tell them how you feel, how it is impacting you, and to strategize with some support.
After all, most of the strategies, including this one, require some practice to get better. Having someone around to coach you is important. More importantly, they can remind you that it is not your fault and that you are not alone.
- First Impressions:
Sometimes, how we behave or carry ourselves might catch a bully’s attention. It is still not your fault. However, it might be good to develop some habits that avoid bullies in the first place (if you can). “I didn’t even do anything!” may be the first thing you think. It is true, it is not your fault, remember?
At the same time, it can be good to think about how we interact with others and how we react to situations, because these things often shape how people see us. There are great things about everyone, even if it is hard to remember it when we are feeling down or critical of ourselves. Think about what makes you awesome and focus on those things to build up your confidence and power.
One of the most important things when being bullied is knowing how to react. Simply put, bullies do what they do to try and get a specific kind of reaction from you. Fear, aggression, and defensiveness play right into the bully’s hands. For example:
Sam: [in an angry and critical voice] You look so stupid.
Ash (defensive): No, I don’t;
Ash (aggressive): Not as stupid as you!
Ash (fearful): *says nothing*
Any of these responses let a bully know they can get a reaction and attention from you. It can be hard not to be upset or angry by these kinds of ‘baiting’ tactics. But ‘baiting’ tactics are just that – they are trying to ‘bait’ you into doing what they want. So, do not do what they want. Walk away if you can. Smile without saying a word. The less reaction you give them, the harder they will try to get a reaction, or they will give up. If they try harder, then you want to keep yourself safe. And then tell someone and ask for help when you are able. But if they give up, you know it is a strategy that will work next time to shut them down.
Remember that these strategies will not work as well if you are already feeling scared and intimidated. The first step is to reach out for help. “I don’t feel safe here” is a clear message that can start a conversation.
Finding your voice again will be important to start gaining the confidence to tell people how you want to be treated (through your body language and your reactions). If someone is hitting you or otherwise causing you pain, know that assault is a crime. These strategies are to stop it from getting to that point. But, if it is already at that point, report it.
Not every strategy will work 100% of the time. Most importantly, it is okay to ask for help with problems that overwhelm you or when you can’t find a healthy solution yourself.