Kids & Parenting
10 Proven Strategies to Stop a Bully in His Tracks
by Dinora Garza
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There are many ways to stop a bully. There is only one mistake you can make when dealing with a bully, and that is doing nothing. Bullying is so cruel, so dangerous, than it can lead to suicide in some extreme cases; that’s why you need to fight back. If you are being bullied, know that you are not alone. We have all been through some kind of bullying. I am going to give you several ways to stop bullies. My family and I have used each one of them and they worked, but ultimately you have to make the decision to stop the bully. That is crucial.
First, it is important that you know how worthy you are. You are very precious. You have been created in God’s image, and He loves you so much. You have to be proud of who you are. Think about your character: Are you a good friend? Are you hard-working, smart or funny? Are you good at math or science? You have to be satisfied with yourself and concentrate on what is good about you. This way, every time someone says something mean to you it won’t hurt as much because you know you are valuable.
Strategy # 1 −Stay away
I’ve always been very thin and for that reason there was always a kid at elementary school who wanted to point out my thinness and call me names. I stayed as far from these bullies as I possibly could. I really didn’t care what they thought about me, I just wanted to be able to enjoy my free time without someone mean next to me. This works, especially during elementary school because as long as you are out of sight, the bully will look for someone else to annoy. Besides, the Bible advises us to stay away from cranky people, so we don’t become like them.
Strategy # 2 −Defeat evil with good
My daughter was being bullied by a girl in kindergarten (can you believe it?). This girl made other girls in her class stop talking or playing with my daughter. My daughter was absolutely sad. To make things worse, my daughter who is a people person liked this girl to be her friend. So, she took all the abuse she could to be close to this one mean girl. What can you do when your daughter wants to be friends with the bully?
Well somebody gave me an idea that I think will work only in kindergarten and maybe first and second grade. I bought some little gifts for the few girls that still talked to my daughter, but I also bought a gift for this bully girl. I know it sounds weird, but keep reading, it worked. I arrived to school on time for my daughter to give these presents to her friends and I approached this girl, and told her “You know, Christie has a gift for you too. She really likes you, she thinks you’re the coolest girl ever!” She looked at me, her eyes wide open and gave me the cutest smile in return. You know the end of the story. She became my daughter’s best friend!
The Bible teaches us to defeat evil with good. This is an example of the Bible at work!
Strategy # 3 −Let your mom have a talk with the bully’s mom
During the years in elementary or even middle school, the help of your mom or dad can be very helpful to you when it comes to bullies:
My son had problems with a bully in elementary school. I went to school and looked for the kids’ mom and explained our problem to her. This mom promised me she would make her son stop, and she did. We really didn’t have to do anything else, just talk to his mom. It worked!
Strategy # 4 −Talk to your teacher
My son was being bullied by a boy who sat right in front of him in class in middle school. My son didn’t want me to intervene, because he did not want his friends to think he was a baby. “Anyone but you mom” he said. “Okay”, I responded. “Then you have to talk to your teacher about it”. He did. The teacher asked both of them to talk about this boy’s behavior. My son talked to this kid about how he felt and told him that he wanted to be respected by him in the future. It worked! The boy probably was just being mean for no reason, and he stopped right there and then.
Strategy # 5 −Value yourself
My daughter had several friends and among them two bullies who were best friends. (Bullies like to group themselves like vicious wolves). These two girls told my daughter she was not pretty enough, or stylish enough, or funny enough for them. So they talked to her when they felt like it and told her to go away whenever they wanted. I waited to see what she would do, but the abuse of these two girls really overwhelmed my daughter and was destroying her self-esteem.
So, one night I sat by her bed and told her a Bible story about a boy named David. This boy was very smart and knew how much he was worth in the eyes of God. He defied a giant, but he didn’t fight against this giant alone, he asked for God’s help and trusted in Him. I explained to her how brave he had to be to stand up to this giant and do what was right. She had to comprehend that she was precious to God and that no one had the right to humiliate her just because she was kind and nice.
The next day she came to me and said, “I talked to these girls and they’re not my friends anymore.” “Really?”, I asked “What did you say to them?” “I told them they don’t deserve to have a friend like me. I told them they don’t have any right to humiliate me, and I told them I won’t talk to them anymore.” “They were shocked! They did not think I was this strong. I don’t care about them. I’ll play with my other friends”, my daughter said confidently.
What surprised me the most was that one of these bullies came to my daughter some time later and apologized to her! She really liked my daughter but the other girl was a bad influence on her. This girl changed for the better and was my daughter’s friend for a long time.
Strategy # 6 −Let the bully know you don’t need him/her.
My daughter was being mistreated by some girls that at first were her friends. They isolated her every Wednesday. They told her “today is our day”, and made her go away. She was desolate. How could her friends be friendly the rest of the week, but despise her on Wednesdays? Go figure!
My daughter and I agreed that something needed to be done. I could not convince her to find new friends and I knew my daughter loved her teacher. She would listen to anything this teacher would say.
I went to see my daughter’s teacher and asked her for advice in front of my daughter. The teacher explained to her, “They are trying to attract the boys, and they know you won’t do what they are doing, that is why they are having this ‘just for us Wednesday’ thing. There is nothing wrong with you. They need to realize you don’t need them. You have to ignore these girls for a while. Be aware that if you make them feel that you cannot be happy without them, they won’t stop bulling you, it will just grow worse. As soon as they know you need them, they will start doing mean things to you, to prove that you do”, the teacher concluded.
My daughter followed her teacher’s advice and ignored the two girls. Pretty soon they realized they were not really needed in the group and they returned, nicer than ever!
Strategy # 7 −Use your resources at the campus
During my son’s high school years, he has had to face several bullies. Here it is what he did:
One guy started bullying him non-stop, calling him names and humiliating him in front of his classmates. One day my son was using some new headphones before his next class and was wearing them. This guy approached him and grabbing the headphones, pulled them very hard, saying sarcastically, “You cannot use these at school!” He not only hurt my son’s ears but totally destroyed the headphones. My son went to the office and talked to the dean. The dean called this bully to his office. After the dean found out what was going on, the bully was given a warning: he not only had to stop bullying my son, but he also had to pay for the destroyed headphones. The dean made this kid responsible for his acts and at the same time, he gave my son a break. Authorities at school are not there just to tell you what to do, but also to protect your rights. Use all of your resources. It really works!
Strategy # 8 −Let them know you really mean it!
Very recently my son started being bullied by a “friend”. The story of our lives! My son, who participates in water polo games at high school, was having a good season. Then his friend, who was not playing much, became envious of my son. He made fun of my son in front of others when he made a mistake at the game, trying to make him appear undeserving of being part of the team.
My son has always been a great guy. He is a good friend and genuinely cares about the other boys. He was always helping this boy with his school work and in any way he could. He was angry and disappointed at his friend’s behavior. Since he was a high school student there was no way I could help him to resolve this. “I’ll do it, mom. Don’t worry, I’ll stop him”, he told me. I advised not to use violence and look for other ways to resolve it. He agreed.
The next day, while we drove home from school my son said, “Guess who stopped bullying me mom?” “Really! What did you do?”, I asked. “Well I had talked to him several times and he would not listen. This time, as soon as I got into our classroom, he started making fun of me and I stopped him right there”. “This time I am not even kidding, you know, you have to stop it!” I said very angry... “Okay, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again”, he said timidly. That was the end of it, thank God!
Strategy # 9 −Find a new school
This advice is for you and your parents, and it is something you have to do if nothing else works:
My son was being bullied by a supposed “friend”. This boy had been my son’s best friend for quite a while. The problem with this boy was that his mother was racist. She hated every race except her own. At first this boy could get along with my son, just ignoring his racist mother, but in the end he started feeling the same way as her. So, here it is, my son being bullied by his own “friend”. This bully called him names, ridiculed my son’s ideas and made him feel unworthy.
My son passed from being a boy with a very healthy self-esteem, to a cranky, depressed teenager. To make things worse, my son also had some teachers who liked to bully students in his classes and my son couldn’t stand it. When we knew what was happening we tried to talk to the principal about the bully teachers, but the administrators would not help us. They are like a little mafia, they protect each other. They will protect their teachers, at the expense of their students. We decided to pull him out of school and homeschool him for the rest of the year to give him a break.
It worked like magic! The happy, self-assured teenager came back! Sometimes you have to take decisions like this for the benefit of your children. Yes, is extra work, but it is worthy. My son recovered from the way he felt, becoming a more self-assured and assertive young man. Now he came back to regular high school and he’s doing great. All he needed was a break from the negativity of a false friend and some bad teachers.
Strategy # 10 (Not really a strategy, but it worked!) − Force as the last resort
When I moved on to middle school we wore uniforms. My father who was a fashion designer, tailored for me the coolest uniform ever. This girl named Sarah was envious of me and started following me very often offending me non-stop. I (being a Christian) avoided confronting her at first, but finally realized I had to stop her.
The last time she bullied me I was walking into our classroom when she followed behind me calling me names. Then she took a pen and with it she drew lines on the back of my uniform. When I realized what she was done I got really angry. I turned around and suddenly grabbed her by her shirt, pushing her to the floor. I was almost ready to punch her in the face when I stopped. (She was begging me to forgive her). Being a Christian, I realized I was not that kind of person; I couldn’t hurt her. Right then I told her I would forgive her if she stopped bullying me. She was so scared that she promised to never bother me again. Sarah and I became very best friends after this!
Yeah, sometimes you have to take greater measures, which is not to say that I am recommending violence. Using force is always to be used as the last resort. Remember, a country declares war only when nothing else can be done to live at peace. Fortunately there are many things you can do instead. My son, who is a very peaceful young man once had to use force with one persistent bull. He hit him just once by surprise and the confused boy stopped bothering him immediately. It is worth repeating this though: avoid violence and try the other proven strategies instead.
Remember, you don’t need people’s approval. The only worthy approval is God’s approval, and when you have God’s approval people will like you too.
Parents, I encourage you to stand up for your children, defending them from anyone who wants to hurt them. Don’t think that because your children have grown they have all the answers. Look for ways to approach them, know how they feel about themselves and others, and help them have a healthy self-esteem.
Take the time to listen to their concerns, problems or achievements at school. Go to their sports games, even if you have to ask for permission from your boss.
Bullies are bullies only in the dark, but when they are uncovered by the light they’ll stop their destructive behavior. Gather your courage and face them. Don’t let anyone make your children’s life miserable.
Boys and girls, you don’t have to take anyone’s abuse. You are worthy of love and respect. You have to stop that bully, so pick your strategy!
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