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Minor bullying - can it be tackled early ourselves?

(8 Posts)
RollerCola Sat 25-May-13 09:35:13

Ds is suffering some low level teasing about his glasses and other silly name-calling at school. He's 6 and in Yr1.

I've spoken to school about it and they're very good but it seems to be still happening. Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this at this early stage? I really want to nip it in the bud as soon as possible by teaching ds the right strategies to deal with it at this stage without it escalating to anything more serious in later years.

He's always been a fairly laid-back confident boy, and seems to be quite popular amongst his classmates, but I think he can take things to heart so a couple of silly comments have knocked his confidence & I've seen a change in him recently.

Without wanting to encourage him to retaliate, I do think he needs to toughen up and learn to stick up for himself. Any advice on how to do that calmly? I know the school will speak to the child concerned but ideally I want the child concerned to realise that ds isn't worth picking on.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 25-May-13 17:20:21

It's really not your is the school's job and their methods so far haven't worked, so they need to change their approach.

It is affecting your need to make an appointment with his teacher...don't play it down and call it low level...bullying is's making him feel bad and needs to be stopped immediately.

As far as DS is the boy who bullies him a "friend" as in in his group of playmates? Or is he just a boy in his class who is finding DS in order to pick on him?

RollerCola Sat 25-May-13 18:18:00

Thanks, no it's not one of his usual friends. He's had a few problems with a couple of boys in his class about the glasses which appears to have stopped after the teacher intervened, but I knew something still wasn't right.

His teacher actually approached me the other day and mentioned an incident in the playground with a boy from a different class, and it's this that I reckon is now worrying him. She said she'd spoken to the other teacher and they'd dealt with it together, but ds has (reluctantly) told me he's still doing it. He's reluctant for me to speak to her again in case it makes it worse but I have to.

I will be speaking to her again after the holidays. I was just after some advice about how to help ds deal with these characters. He'll come across plenty in his life after all, I want him to grow up strong and confident but it's difficult to know how to advise him at just 6 years of age.

formica5 Sat 25-May-13 19:33:42

I don't think your son needs to toughen up. I think the boys need to stop teasing.

HiggsR Sun 26-May-13 15:48:06

Hello, I give inspirational talks and workshops on 'Anti-Bullying' in Schools. One of the techniques I teach children is how to deal with name calling and respond in a way that prevents it developing into a bullying incident.

I teach young people to understand that bullying is all about reactions. If someone calls you a name with the intent to bully you, then your reaction to that name is what determines whether the situation develops or not.

This is why those who bully have no power unless we allow them to have it.

Bullying is about emotional impact. People who bully need to see that their words or actions are having an impact on how the person they target feels about themselves.

Bullies use emotive words with the intention of lowering their target's self esteem. When the bullies see the person they target showing anger or getting upset, they are getting a reaction that encourages them to say and do it again and again.

So it's all about giving an Assertive reaction.

I teach young people to give what is called a 'closed response' to any words intended to bully them. For example, if someone calls you fat you say 'You could be right' or 'I don't think I am' or 'Thanks for the opinion' or even smiling, acting as if what they've said is a compliment and saying 'Thanks very much!'

In this case some examples would be:

'I don't like your glasses'

Answer: 'I like them'

'Why do you wear glasses?'

'To see better.'

The answer is 'closed.' It immediately makes the 'bully' have to think of something else to say. The idea is to keep repeating the closed response whatever the bully says. This makes it much more challenging for the 'bullies' because they are not getting the upset or angry reaction they are hoping to provoke.

I teach young people to use eye contact - to look the other person in the eyes [which shows confidence], give their answer and walk away.

This is one option, a second option I teach is 'open answer', for example

'You're wearing glasses'

'Yeah I am so what?'

or 'You're glasses are.....'

Answer: 'Why are you saying that?'

Sometimes a more direct question can put the name caller on the back foot and encourage them to stop. Sometimes giving an insult back can work well or using humour and making a joke out of the situation to defuse it. However I prefer the Assertive or Closed Response because it works better to defuse situations and being more aggressive always runs the risk of making them escalate.

Practising answering back in a controlled way, for example by using roleplays at home are great for building confidence and resilience and developing an automatic response that works for each individual.

Above all I teach young people to develop a habit of not taking anything anyone says about them personally. I teach that the only opinion that really matters is our own - if we cultivate a habit of encouraging ourselves and think about who we are in a positive way, we become resilient to the things that people say, whether they are meant as banter or bullying.

I hope this is helpful. I speak as someone who experienced bullying at School myself. I regularly post free advice on twitter @Higgs_Rob or on my website

RollerCola Sun 26-May-13 20:08:57

Thanks so much HiggsR that's really helpful, especially with the glasses examples. Just what I was looking for. I'll follow you on twitter right now!

Doobydoo Sun 26-May-13 20:11:56

HiggsR where are you based.Am in Lincolnshire.My ds as small school but think your kind of talk would be beneficial.

HiggsR Mon 27-May-13 20:29:45

Hi, I give talks to Schools throughout the UK and go wherever I am invited. All of my information can be found on twitter @Higgs_Rob or

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