15 Ways for Bullied Kids to Take Back Their Power

Teach your bullied child how to take control of his life

upset boy looking out a window
iStockphoto

When a child is bullied, naturally he will feel like his life is out of control. After all, there is very little he can do to make someone like him or treat him differently. But the trap most victims of bullying fall into is adopting the belief that they are completely powerless in the situation.

While it is true that intervention by teachers, administrators, or parents is needed to make the bullying cease, a target of bullying still has control over his reaction and does not have to embrace victim-thinking.

Instead, if he focuses on taking back the power in his life, his healing from bullying will move at a much quicker pace.

Here are 15 strategies your child can use to regain a sense of control over his life. Be sure you remind him of these truths.

Take Control of Your Thoughts and Your Attitude

Remind your child that his attitude does not come from his circumstances but instead from how he interprets his circumstances. While the bully may be responsible for the bullying, he is not responsible for your child’s attitude.

Remember, your child is in charge of how he responds to the bullying. Encourage him to take full responsibility for his feelings and his outlook. If he is able to remain positive despite his circumstances, the bullying will have less of an impact.

Remember That Your Thoughts Are Your Reality

Most kids do not realize that how they view a situation is ultimately how they will feel about it too.

In other words, if they dwell on the humiliation of being bullied, they will feel humiliated.

But if they think about how they used self defense or how they took a stand against the bully, they will feel empowered. The key is to get your child to reframe how he thinks about bullying. Get him to focus on the positive and to avoid dwelling on the negative.

Look for the Lesson in the Situation

No matter what happens, there is always something that can be learned from a bad situation. It may not be clear to your child at first but eventually he should be able to look back and see what he learned from being bullied.

For instance, did he realize that he is more resilient than he thought? Or maybe he discovered his voice and learned to be more assertive. The key is that he find something that he learned in spite of the pain.

Be Thankful in Every Situation Including Bullying

This may sound like crazy advice; but if you can get your child to focus being grateful then the bullying will not appear as significant to him. On the other hand, if he allows his issues with the bully to consume his thoughts he will forget all the things he has to be thankful for. Remind your child that he can still find ways to enjoy life even if things are not going his way.

Allow Yourself to Be Angry

Too many times when kids are bullied, they stuff their feelings. Remind your child that he has every right to be angry.

What is happening to him is wrong and it should stop.

Be sure he is taking steps to keep you and his teachers in the loop about what is happening but encourage him to use his anger and his complaints about the situation in a productive way. While he should acknowledge his anger, the goal should be to recognize it and then move on.

Avoid the Drama, Gossip, and Rumors

If your child wants to remain positive about his situation he should avoid people that thrive on the drama, gossip, and rumors. Advise him to avoid anyone who is curious about his situation and wants to hear what is going on.

Most of the time, these kids are just looking for a juicy story and are not interested in helping your child. Encourage him to tighten his circle of friends to those he can trust and that are committed to standing with him.

Take Yourself Out of Harm’s Way

Remind your child that if he wants to take control of his situation he needs to be proactive and not reactive. In other words, he needs to put together a plan that reduces the likelihood of being targeted again.

This might include avoiding bullying hot spots or having a friend walk with him in the halls. It also might mean enlisting the help of the school’s administrators in moving his locker or changing his schedule. And if he is experiencing cyberbullying then he may want to change his accounts, his passwords, or even block anyone who is bullying him online. Another option is to avoid using social media. Remind him that it is never a good idea to willingly read the negative things people say. 

Focus on the Future

Sometimes it is easy to get bogged down by what is happening in the here and now and to lose focus of the big picture. Remind your child that middle school and high school are small blips in their lives. Encourage him to focus on setting goals and working toward things that really matter rather than allowing himself to be sucked into the negative feelings that bullying can cause.

Remember Not Everyone Will Like You and That Is Ok

Tell your child not to waste his time and energy trying to please everyone or trying to make people like him. Instead, focus on having integrity, being a good friend and remaining authentic. If your child focuses on becoming a better person rather than trying to get the approval of others, friendships and relationships will happen naturally. Trying to adapt or change to fit the expectations of others is never the answer.

Also, remind him that even though a bully is targeting him this does not mean there is something wrong with him. Bullying is about the bully’s poor choice. It is not an indicator that there is something wrong with the victim.

Take a Closer Look at Your Friendships

There is an old saying that people become like those that they spend the most time with. Encourage your child to think about the people in his life that get the bulk of his time and attention. Tell him to think about how those friends make him feel. Ask if his friends support him, if he can count on them and if he can trust them. Then, tell him to weed out the friends that do not have his best interest in mind.

Value Accountability

If your child is stuck in a rut of blaming others for how he feels or his unhappiness, then he is handing over control of his life. But if your child learns to hold himself accountable for his feelings and hold the bully accountable for the bullying, he will feel more in control of his life. This accountability also builds confidence and a strong sense of self. And he learns to accept responsibility for the things that he has the power to change.

Stop Making or Accepting Excuses

Everyone has said something hurtful, made a poor choice, or engaged in unhealthy behavior. The key is that they take responsibility for those choices.

If your child has a friend who is a bully but is unwilling to recognize it, encourage him to stop making excuses for his friend’s bad behavior. Healthy friends recognize their bad behavior and accept responsibility for their actions. Bullies and mean girls do not.

If your child has someone like that in their life, they need to cut ties and move on. Accepting excuses for bad behavior enables the person to continue treating your child unfairly.

Find a Way to Heal

Your child might benefit from outside counsel in some bullying situations. Be sure to talk with your child’s pediatrician for recommendations on counselors who deal with bullying issues. There is no shame in getting a little extra help. No one gets to adulthood without having a few issues that need to be addressed and sorted out and counselors are trained to help with these issues. What’s more, a lot of kids that have been bullied struggle with depression and anxiety. These issues are often best handled by a professional.

Give Up the Desire for Revenge and Focus on Forgiveness Instead

While it is often a natural desire for kids to want revenge for being hurt or humiliated, it is never a good idea. Remind your child that revenge will never make him feel better. Instead, encourage him to focus on forgiving the bully.

But be patient—forgiveness is a decision that takes time. It does not mean that your child is excusing the bully's actions, nor does he need to forget what happened. Instead, forgiveness allows him to stop dwelling on what happened and to move on. 

Remember You May Feel Lonely, but You Are Never Truly Alone

Bullying often causes bullied kids to feel alone, hopeless, and vulnerable. While these are normal reactions to bullying, your child needs to know that he is not truly alone. Remind him that he has your support and his friends’ support.

It is essential that he realize this. Too many times, kids that are bullied believe the lies perpetuated by the bully and end up considering drastic alternatives to their situations like cutting or suicide. Do what you can to help alleviate feelings of loneliness and be sure you available to listen anytime he wants to unload.

Continue Reading