A kid asked me – how do I handle kids bullying me because I learn more than what is required. First off, learning more than is required is ALL sorts of awesome. 2nd, the science of behavioral extinction is super cool and applies here. Perfect for a geek who likes to learn.
I answered the question over at Quora – link here for all the wonderfulness that is my answer.
A synopsis of how to stop a bully:
1) Plan your response:
Some things you could say would be to just acknowledge – “Yes. Yes I am.” So – let’s pretend you were just called a bookworm. Answer – while smiling and looking them right in the eye – Yes. Yes I am. If they then say – “And you are proud of that? Your response? Yes. Yes I am.
2) Understand the Science:
This technique this is based on is an operant conditioning technique called “extinguishing a behavior.” It has 70 plus years of research behind it. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C10&q=behavioral+extinction&btnG=&oq=
3) Understand – THEY WILL ESCALATE – and that’s ok.
You remove the reward by owning your awesomeness. They will escalate. Get frustrated and eventually leave you alone. They will get worse – before they give up. This is to be expected. It’s part of the process. It even has a name: Extinction Burst. It’s well studied (https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C10&q=Extinction+burst&btnG=)
Just know – if they get worse, it means they don’t like what you are doing – so keep it up. Add in reporting as they get obnoxious to increase the cost of them behaving badly. Eventually – they will learn to leave you alone. It will be difficult for a while, but keep at it.
4) Finally – Keep Being Awesome!
There is nothing wrong with learning more than what is required. It’s called curiosity and it’s a sign of intelligence. People who are intellectually curious – end up running the world. So keep being awesome.