5 tactics for children to outsmart a bully

In this video Mia and Isaac demonstrate five approaches children can use to outsmart a bully.

1. Tell Someone

  • Tell your mum or dad, one of your family, a grandparent, teacher, friend or someone else you feel comfortable talking to. Ask them to help you work out what to do.
  • Tell a teacher. It doesn’t matter where it happens – in school, out of school or online, teachers want to stop bullying when they know about it.
  • If things don’t get better after you’ve told someone, tell them again or tell a different person.
  • It’s good to talk about teases so it doesn’t hurt any more.  By making jokes out of the teases, unkind words can lose their power.
  • If you want to talk to someone that you don’t know, you can go to Kids helpline or call them on 1800 55 1800. It’s a free call.

2. Show you are not affected

  • Bullies tease and push to get the typical reaction of fear, sadness, or anger from their victim. Doing anything that shows the bully that the tease hasn’t bothered you will take all the fun out of teasing.
  • Don’t try to get back at the person who bullies you. It usually doesn’t work, it sometimes makes them angrier and you can end up in trouble too.

3. Be assertive and confident

  • Tell the other person ‘I don’t like that’. Use a strong and confident voice. Even if you don’t feel strong and confident, fake it!
  • Use a routine response (e.g. okay, whatever) that implies that you are not bothered
  • Learn assertive behaviour and understand the difference between this (the Goldilocks of behaviours) and unassertive/passive behaviours that are too weak or aggressive behaviours that are too strong.
  • Learn how to stand up for yourself. For example look the person in the eye and say ‘stop bullying me’

4. Develop clever comebacks

  • Develop clever comebacks to diffuse the situation and show the bully that what was said doesn’t hurt (even if at first it does).
  • Rather than reacting to the tease in an emotional way, you can develop clever comebacks.  For example if the bully says, “You’re a fat pig.” Rather than yelling, “I am not you *!#@,” a child could respond, “Gosh, I was aiming for ‘enormous elephant’ this week;  I’ll have to keep trying.”  Such a response is going to confuse the bully enough to make time for the child to move out of the line of fire.
  • Make sure you are not nasty, rude, or aggressive to the bully since this might simply make the situation worse.

5. Talk with the person who is bullying you (if it is safe to do so)

  • Talk with the person who is bullying you (if you think it’s a safe thing to do).
    Ask them if there is a problem that you might be able to sort out together. If you feel too scared to do it alone, ask a friend to come with you.

Try role playing and acting out imaginary scenarios with your family so you can practice your skills by attempting to deal with pretend situations until you become confident enough to try it in real life.