Practice and Prepare to Prevent Bullying

Why you need to practice what to say and how to say it with your child so they will know how to stop bullying.


If your child tells you they are being bullied, make sure that you prepare them before you send them back to school. Your child has come to you for help.  What they want to know from you is HOW do they get it to stop.  They want your help. Which is good.  So make sure you give it to them.

It isn’t enough to tell them to stand up for themselves. You need to teach them what to say, how to say it and what to do as a follow up. You also need to make sure they practice saying the words and practice the body language so that they will be prepared, when, not if, they are challenged by a bully again.

Here are appropriate responses for the 4 most common types of bullying.

1)      Verbal. Verbal Bullying can be teasing, calling names, exclusion, or spreading rumors and insults. 95% of verbal bullying is about appearance, intelligence, race, ethnicity, sexuality or social acceptance.  Ignoring the taunts won’t work. It is best for your child to have a retort ready. Something that is calm and unemotional. Your child needs to acknowledge what was said and let the bully know they were not bothered by it.

What to Say: “Thank you for that information. It’s very helpful.”
How to Say it: matter of fact

How to follow up: Repeat as necessary until the taunts stop.

2)      Threats of Violence: Threats of violence can be subtle or scary. Often both at the same time. Especially if the child is young. Young children don’t understand threats and assume if someone is threatening them, they will carry through on it. Your child will need to be coached on what to do if they get hit or if the bully carries through on the threat.

What to Say: If you do that, I will report you.

How to Say it: Matter of fact

How to follow up: If the bully gets violent, report them. Each and every time.  If they resort to name calling or verbal bullying – use the verbal response.

3)      Physical Bullying: Physical bullying is when actual violence takes place. But it can also be shoving, poking, and stealing stuff. Basically, physical bullying is when a physical action has taken place.  If your child reports physical bullying, you need to make sure that this is reported to the school immediately and ask for assistance in what can be done to prevent these kids from having access to your child to hurt them again. If they are on the bus – how will the bus driver keep the offenders away from your child?  If it is on the playground, will the school station additional staff to intervene? In all cases, if your child is being physically bullied, their first responsibility is to get away and/or to defend themselves. Your responsibility and the schools responsibility is to make sure that the bullies are not given an opportunity to batter your child again.  

What to say: Nothing – Goal – get away from the bullies.

How to Follow up: They need to report ALL incidences immediately to the nearest teacher or adult. No exceptions. They also need to report it to you, so that you can follow up with the school. If necessary – fill out a bullying documentation log.

Why Do you need to practice this?

In order for your child to be able to speak the words in the manner that they need to, you have to have them practice.  They must verbally utter the words you expect them to say. They need to make eye contact with you if possible or look where you have instructed them to while speaking. They must be able to tell you who they plan to report things to if things go wrong.

The other reason to practice them saying the words is because in order to practice, you have to challenge them – this will help desensitize them to the language of bullying so that they can respond calmly to it.

The keys to bullying prevention

In order to get bullying to stop, your child will need to have the courage to confront the bully, they must respond in a calm manner and they must be consistent. Bullies bully because it works. They get a reward. That reward is your child being upset. The less upset your child is, the less interesting they are to the bully. Your goal is to make your child un-fun to tease.  

When a child responds calmly and consistently they will not only remove the reward the bully gets from bullying, the bully will also figure out that the cost of bullying is increasing because they are getting called on it.

Dealing with Advanced Stage Bullying

If bullying has been going on for a while or has escalated to violence, it means bullying has become a habit for the bully and getting them to stop won’t be easy. The key to getting chronic bullying to stop or any bullying for that matter, is to be 100% consistent in response. That means every incident of bullying is reported, no exceptions. It also means that if you try to stop them, they are going to escalate their behavior to get your child to give up trying to get them to stop.  This is something they have learned works in the past, so they will try it with your child.  This means that if your child stands up to a bully and the bully is already physically violent, that things can get worse very very quickly as the bullies cycle through what known as a blowout or extinction burst.  Your child and the school need to be prepared for this. Again, the key is going to be 100% consistent reporting and response from the school so that the bullies learn as quickly as possible that they aren’t going to be allowed to continue.


To learn more about this process – get my book The Bully Vaccine or join this site and get the Bully Vaccine Toolkit both of which explain in detail the science behind the bullying extinction process.

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