I am noticing a disturbing trend amongst the other comments about my approach to dealing with a bully. Let me say right up front that violence is not the answer. That attitude of violence comes from the “Boys will be boys” attitude. It comes from an ignorance of the overall issue of bullying. I am not going to tell you that a physical reaction is NEVER the right thing to do. Of course, if you are being physically attacked then by all means defend yourself. But there are a number of other ways to handle bullying when it occurs.
How could you possibly use violence as an answer to a cyberattack? How could you use violence to fight back against social alienation or intimidation? Both of which are methods that bullies use. The answer is that physical violence is not the right way to handle almost all bullying situations. So you may be wondering how to fight back if you should not use violence. Well, I am glad you asked. Verbal Judo is one such way. I talk about this in my book, “My Do’s and Dont’s for Bully-Proofing Your Child,” which is available on both of my websites and Amazon. Staying calm and letting the bully have his say, and then turning around and walking away without commenting. BUT, do not completely turn your back on him. Make sure you can still tell what he is doing so that you could defend yourself if necessary. I absolutely realize just how difficult this can be. Not everyone is emotionally equipped enough to be able to do this. But the number one way to defeat a bully is with true self-confidence.
True self-confidence is, without a doubt, one of the two most important traits that a child, any child, can have that will help them to avoid becoming the target of a bully, and becoming a successful and prosperous adult. True self-confidence and self-esteem are both necessary for a child to be ready to face the world. OK, so what is True self-confidence? This is defined as an individual’s trust in his or her own abilities, capacities, and judgments, or belief that he or she can successfully face day-to-day challenges and demands. It also brings about more happiness. This is also a learned skill. It is not something that we are born with.
By now, you are most likely asking yourself “Just exactly how do I help my son/daughter to develop a high level of True self-confidence?” True self-confidence is learned. Just like you learned how to ride a bicycle. Just like you learned how to drive a car. You learn how to develop True self-confidence from a very early age. Yes, the ideal way is to start learning it from a very young age. Two years old is not too young. But this would also require the help of your parents. Even if that did not happen, you can still learn as an older child, a teenager, or even as an adult. It’s never too late to learn it. I didn’t start learning it until I was in my forties because I was still being bullied. I just got tired of constantly being picked on, and decided to do something to put a stop to it.
You learn True-self confidence by starting small. Pick something that you really like doing and that you hope will continue for an extended amount of time. The more you do it, the more confident you become in your ability to do whatever it is that you chose. It could be athletic, or academic, or social, or even professional if you are an adult. When you feel comfortable about what you are doing or you want to try something else, then do it. The more you accomplish the more your self-confidence will grow. Eventually you will realize that bullies no longer scare you or make you feel trapped. The one thing a bully does not want to run up against is anyone that is confident in themselves. It’s no longer any fun for them if they cannot exert their power over you.
BUT, here is a word of caution. This advice is more for younger people than for adults. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that False self-confidence will protect you. IT WILL NOT!!! False self-confidence comes from being complimented continually for things that you did not have to work on to get better. A participation trophy is a perfect example of False self-confidence. All you or your child had to do was to show up and be able to fog a mirror to get it. False self-confidence will almost guaranty that your child will become a target of a bully. True self-confidence will help him/her to avoid becoming a target for bullies.
But, if nothing else works, and your child is forced to become physical, then at least make sure that they are as capable as possible at defending themselves. In my book My Do’s and Don’t’s for Bully-Proofing Your Child, I name five different forms of martial arts that could be used successfully on the street. I name these five because I have personal knowledge of several of them. I am a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon do, and I am working on my first degree black belt in Wing Chun. But I will say this one more time. This should be a last resort. Avoid violence if you can.