The simple truth is … this is a life skill you need to learn.

Why? Because there are always going to be aggressive people bothering you. Learning how to deal with them with dignity – is an important life skill.

My son is in middle school. He has lots of friends. Good friends. Then a game started and he started getting targeted. Basically – they were getting ketchup packets and hitting people with them.

He had to stand up to his friends and leave them for a bit. Are his friends bad people? No. They are just goofy kids. Did they target him because they don’t like him? No – they actually like him a lot. They just thought it was funny – and he didn’t – because it was ruining his clothes. No one wants to go to school with ketchup on their pants.

Learning how to stand up to your friends and shut stupid behavior down – is a life skill. You are always going to need it.

What did my son do? Well – he told me what happened. I had him talk to the school counselor so the counselor and student support could intervene and help the other kids – not do that any more. And he started hanging out with other friends so he would not be around those kids for a while and not be subjected to their crankiness for him having gotten them in trouble. He’s happy with how things turned out.

What are the skills he practiced? First – boundary setting. He decided he didn’t like how he was being treated and that he wasn’t going to tolerate it. Even though he knew it was a game. He didn’t feel he was being treated ok and it wasn’t ok.

He told them to stop and when they didn’t – he reported them. He was scared to do it – but – afterwards – he felt a lot better and actually empowered. He knew he had made the right decision.

Finally – he hung out with a different set of friends. Kids who bully – are often looking for your attention. One way to deny them that and to make it so they can’t harass you – is to remove yourself. Go hang out with other people. Deny them access to you. The best way to set a boundary and make sure it’s respected – is to just leave. If you aren’t around them – they can’t hassle you.

My son has been through this with this group of friends before – and eventually – the kids apologized and things went back to normal. I suspect that will happen again after everyone calms down.

If you don’t think you have friends – you probably do. What happens is that you get so focused on the kids who are upsetting you – you ignore ALL the other kids in the school. My son just went up to other kids and started talking to them and they were happy to have him with them. This does take courage. A lot of it. If you need help – a school counselor can help you find other kids and make introductions for you.

My point of telling you this story is – things are going to happen. It happens to everyone at some point and at multiple points in your life. Developing healthy coping strategies where you set boundaries for how people treat you and walk away from them if you feel you aren’t being treated with dignity – is an important life skill. Learning how to respond with dignity to protect your dignity and the dignity of others – is worth learning and practicing.

My website has lots of free videos and lessons you can take to learn how to do this. Good luck.