From The Kids' Guide to Working Out Conflicts:
A WORD TO KIDS WHO ARE BEING PICKED ON OR BULLIED:
Know That You Have Worth and Value
Kids who are bullied tend to think they're being picked on because there's
something wrong with them. This is absolutely not true. People who bully are
looking for an available target, so they latch on to the next convenient
person they feel they can have power over. You just happen to be that person, and
when it isn't you, it's going to be someone else. So if you're feeling that
the bullying is somehow your fault, let go of that idea. It's not your fault. No
one deserves to be bullied. Period.
Too often kids who are bullied keep the problem inside because they feel
embarrassed or ashamed. Doing this only makes it worse. Shame and silence
can make you forget the power you have inside. Always remember that you have
worth and value. You don't have to be thin, cool, smart, white, black,
well-dressed, free of handicaps, or good in sports to be worthy of respect. Your
uniqueness is what makes you special.
Unfortunately there are too many kids who believe that the only way to be
popular is to dress, talk, eat, act, and look like everyone else. Well, they've
got it backward. The most interesting people in life are the ones who don't fit
into any particular mold. So know that you don't have to let anyone else's
words or actions make you feel less than you are.
Working on your self-esteem and self-confidence will help you deal with
bullying from a place of strength. And being strong outside is as important as
feeling strong inside. You can prepare yourself to deal with bullying so you're
able to take strong, smart action when it happens.
Have you ever heard the saying "There's strength in numbers"? People who
bully often look for kids who are alone. By finding people to hang out with,you
can help keep yourself from being approached by a bully in the first place.
Another strong move is to rehearse ways to respond to bullying. It's hard to
think of what to say on the spot when someone's being mean to you. Practicing
ahead of time, in front of a mirror or with another person, really helps.
Four key things to rehearse are assertive words, a steady voice, eye contact,
and strong body posture.
Here are a few examples of things you can say when someone tries to pick on
- Don't talk to me that way. Do you understand?
- I totally disagree.
- I'm not going to listen to this stuff.
- I'm not going to take this.
- Your words are meaningless to me.
- It seems like you're enjoying trying to make me feel bad, but it's
- Stop it.
Work on keeping your voice firm and strong without shouting. You want your
tone of voice to communicate that you're in control (even if you don't feel
that way inside). The more you practice and use an assertive voice, the more in
charge you'll feel.
It's important to look directly at the person when you speak. Looking down or
away removes the power of your words.
Stand straight. Keep your chin high and your shoulders square. This sends a
message of strength and confidence.
Don't forget to breathe!
When you're frightened or nervous, your breathing becomes shallow, making you
more frightened or nervous. You can reverse this by practicing deep
abdominal breathing. Here's how to do it:
Sit up tall and put your hands on your abdomen (the lower part of your
stomach). Imagine this part of your stomach being a balloon that you can fill with
air. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, and imagine the air going
right down into that balloon. Gently expand your lower abdomen (the balloon
part) and your lungs at the same time. Hold the breath deep inside for a
moment, then gently exhale through your nose. As you exhale, slowly deflate the
balloon. Now try it again. Breath in slowly, deeply, and gently. Let the air
fill your stomach and chest cavity. Gently hold the breath in and imagine it
circulating into every cell of your body, relaxing you. Now exhale, slowly and
gently. Feel your lower abdomen expanding and releasing with each inhale and
exhale. Do this five times each time you feel stressed.
The more you use deep breathing, the more calm and in control you'll feel
when you face the person who's been picking on you.
This will help 'reprogram' your brain from fear to strength. Every night
before you go to sleep and each morning when you wake up, take a few deep
abdominal breaths. Then picture yourself successfully dealing with the person who's
bullying you. In your mind, imagine yourself standing and feeling brave and
strong. See your eyes looking straight into the other person's. Hear your voice
saying assertive words with firm confidence. Then watch yourself walk away
strong and proud.
Excerpted from The Kids' Guide to Working Out Conflicts by Naomi Drew, M.A.,
copyright © 2004. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc.,
Minneapolis, MN; 866/703-7322; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.
Real world results of using The Kids' Guide to Working Out Conflicts
Jennie Purvis, a guidance counselor in Jacksonville, Florida, used The Kids’ Guide to Working Out Conflicts with at-risk girls who’d been in frequent fights with friends and teachers. She reports their favorite lesson from the Leader’s Guide was on “Willingness Blocks.” She brought in shoeboxes and the girls wrote their blocks on them with markers. Jennie says, “They were thrilled to have something so concrete to show what they were struggling with. The girls also really related to the results from the book survey, which they felt accurately reflected and validated their conflict situations.” Other ideas from Jennie include making laminated “Stop, Breathe, Chill” mini-posters that students tape in their notebooks and lockers and incorporating the book’s listening skills lessons in academic classes. She’s even used the “Win/Win Guidelines” to help a boy and his mother problem-solve together!
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