What to say to a bully

I wish I could tell you magic words that would make bullying stop. But unfortunately – it doesn’t work like that. What I can teach you – is things you can say – that if you say them consistently – will make a bully – want to leave you alone.

The secret to understanding what to say to a bully is to understand – they want attention. They may even want YOUR attention. They are acting out – to get attention.

The key to getting them to stop – is to both – not give them your attention and make their bid for attention – give them the wrong sort of attention.

What this means is – act as if you aren’t bothered by them. If they are behaving badly – that’s them behaving badly. It has nothing to do with you – even if you are being targeted by them. You should be giving your attention to people who are worthy of your attention.

If a bully is trying to make you upset – don’t get upset. Deny them that reward. This doesn’t mean ignore them – it means – don’t give them the attention they want. Give them the wrong sort of attention.

The wrong sort of attention

Most bullies are trying to make themselves seem powerful. If they can make someone upset – they have power. If they can’t make you upset – they don’t have power over you.

They also – don’t like being embarrassed. And they don’t like being seen as weak.

Response Options:

Kindness – I love this one. When people say something mean – turn it around and act as if it’s a compliment. Thank them even. Not only will they not understand what is going on- it will freak them out a bit. It will also make you impervious to their attempts to hurt you. They won’t be getting to you – and – worse – you being happy – is not the response they want. Expect them to say – you are crazy – but they will break off and leave – and if you keep doing this – they will eventually – just leave you alone.

Sympathy – Bullies are usually pretty insecure and unhappy. You can respond to bullying by treating a bully with sympathy. Ask them if something is wrong and express sympathy for their unhappiness. They will NOT like that. Be genuine though and kind. Always be kind. Again – they will break off and maybe say you are crazy – but they will break off.

Grey Rock Technique – This is where – you respond with no emotion. Just – pretend you are a dull grey rock. They say something mean. Say – ok. And stare at them blankly. You can ask them if they are done. And just keep saying ok – until they break off. Again – they will probably label you crazy – because you didn’t respond the way they wanted. Don’t worry – the other kids won’t think you are crazy if you respond normally and friendly and sane to everyone else.

Note – all of these techniques are for verbal bullying. You can respond to verbal bullying using verbal techniques.

The point is – plan something you can say in response – practice saying it and be prepared to repeat it until the bully leaves. Be prepared to do this multiple times.

Generally – when a bully doesn’t get the response they want – they try again. They may get more aggressive. But if you continue to not give them what they want – they will eventually give up.

My advice -make a game out of it. That way – you can not only not respond the way they want – your amusement at the distress you are causing them by not giving them what they want – will make it easier to keep doing the exact thing they don’t like.

Don’t allow their attempts to scare you into going back. If they don’t like your response – keep doing it.