Would you like some ideas about how to handle a bully? Bullying is the threat of or actual physical assault of another person. Often it is pushing, shoving, grabbing, poking and sometimes punching and/or kicking. Bullies are often weak, insecure individuals who pick on perceived “weaker” targets for the purpose of hurting, controlling, manipulating gaining financial or other gain.
Bullying is common is schools, playgrounds and even sporting contests. As a “behavioral psychologist” who specializes in cognitive therapy, I can tell you that there is no single strategy to deal with bullying behavior. However, as Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “walk softly but carry a big stick”. As a wise coach once told me, “never start a fight but be sure you finish it”. It is important for kids to stand up for themselves and not appear scared or cowardly. Often times, just as in the animal kingdom, these behaviors generally embolden an aggressor and increase the likelihood of attack. I believe children should be taught how to fight, that is to be able to physically defend themselves. Self-defense is a skill everyone should know. If attacked, a well placed kick to the groin or elbow to the solarplexes will usually make a bully back off and seek an easier target.
Self-defense training must be taught along with self-control and self discipline. The movie, “The Karate Kid” is a fine example of such an approach.
Another approach for how to handle a bully is developing good verbal skills. Depending on the situation, words can be used to disarm or diffuse a difficult situation.
A third strategy for how to handle a bully is to rehearse with the child being bullied who they should tell and how they should assert themselves with adults they can and should go to for help.
Handling difficult people and situations is an important skill to develop so learning early and practicing often will help kids grow into healthier adults.