Getting bullied can impact your self-esteem and your performance in school and other activities. Bullying is mainly discussed as a problem that affects school-age children, but anyone can be bullied regardless of where they find themselves.
One of the most effective ways for school-age children to deal with bullies involves talking to a teacher or parent about the bullying. However, you might have to deal with bullies alone if you can’t talk to anyone immediately. Simple things like using your voice and telling the bully they need to stop what they are doing in a calm tone go a long way. If the conversation escalates into physical aggression, you can either walk away or defend yourself. Show a little perseverance and confidence; your bully might eventually leave you alone.
Ways To Protect Yourself From Bullies
Bullying can be verbal, physical, or emotional. Verbal bullying includes calling someone insulting things, making fun of them, or verbally harassing them. Physical includes intimidation, pushing, and striking. Emotional bullying includes spreading rumors about a person or alienating them from peers.
Bullying typically starts verbally with the bully saying things to get under their target’s skin or upset them. Some of the things you can do to address verbal bullying include:
1) Ignore The Bully
Bullies often enjoy upsetting their targets, so ignore them when possible. Rather than engaging with them, ignore their attempts to rile you up and continue with your day as normal. Act as if the bully isn’t even there and let them know you don’t care about anything they say about you with your actions and body language.
You should also try to keep the times you share the same space with a bully to a minimum. If you see your bully coming towards where you are; make an exit plan if possible. Some bullies might try to get in your way or cut you off to force you to acknowledge their presence, so keep that in mind when ignoring bullies. They might try to escalate the situation when bullying you doesn’t go as planned.
2) Stand Up For Yourself With Your Words
Looking a bully in the eye and telling them to leave you alone in a loud, clear voice can be an effective way to deter them. If a bully doesn’t leave you alone after all your attempts to ignore them and keep interactions with them to a minimum, you might need to stand up to them with your voice.
Tell them to stop doing what they’re doing and to leave you alone in a loud, confident voice. This will throw the bully off and bring attention to what’s happening. The bully might stop harassing you when they notice everyone in the room is giving them disapproving looks.
Avoid yelling or raising your voice too loudly when standing up to bullies since that signals their harassment is affecting your emotions. That’s what bullies feed off, so don’t give them any satisfaction. Use your words in a way that lets them know you’re not scared of them and want to be left alone.
3) Never Get Emotional When Dealing With Bullies
Anyways keep your emotions under control when dealing with bullies. Most bullies will keep harassing you when they notice you’re afraid of them or are upset by their behavior. Try your best to put on a poker face when confronted by a bully and hide your emotions. Remember, bullies need others to feel bad to feel good about themselves.
If you notice you’re starting to get upset when dealing with a bully, take a few deep breaths and try to stay calm. It’s okay to get emotional and react to your bully’s words once you get away from them. You don’t want to suppress your emotions for too long since it can lower your confidence and self-esteem.
4) Interact With The Bully Without Fear Or Anger
Talking to a bully without showing anger or fear is the appropriate way to interact with them. Always use an assertive, firm tone when talking to a bully to show them their insults don’t make you upset or scare you. Maintain eye contact when standing up for yourself and display good posture to appear more confident. The bully will get tired of harassing you after a few interactions once they notice you’re not reacting to their attempts to get under your skin.
For example, you could firmly let a bully know you don’t like what they’re saying about you and want them to stop. It can be as simple as saying, “don’t talk to me” or “go away!” Use the bully’s name when talking to them since it makes you appear more confident.
5) Use The Bully’s Words Against Them To Remove Their Power
Sometimes, agreeing with a bully’s comments can be an effective way to remove their power. For example, if a bully tries to belittle you with a comment, own the comment and tell them they’re right. Let them know the comment doesn’t bother you by agreeing and letting them know you’re proud of what they’re trying to make fun of.
For example, if a bully calls you a nerd to shame you, respond by letting them know you’re happy to be a nerd. You can say something like, “I love being one of the smartest students in class.” You don’t necessarily have to agree with what a bully says, but acting as you do effectively takes their power from them. The bully will probably stop harassing you about being a nerd when they realize it’s not something you’re insecure about.
6) Use Humor To Deflect The Bully’s Insults
Humor can be an effective way to deflect a bully’s insults. Saying something funny in response to a bully’s insult sends a message that you don’t care about anything the bully has to say. Instead of getting upset and reacting emotionally to what a bully says, laugh it off and joke about it. The bully won’t get the reaction they want, and they’ll probably move on to something else.
For example, you can joke about the bully’s unoriginal comments or jokingly say they’ll have to set an appointment if they want to talk to you. Try not to use jokes that insult the bully since that can make them more aggressive with you.
7) Talk To Authority Figures About Repeated Bullying
Report your bully to authority figures if the behavior is persistent. Let them know who is harassing you and what you’ve done to address it. The authority figure might be able to defuse the situation before things get out of control. For example, a bully is more likely to stop their behavior if an authority figure like a school principal or HR staff at work warns them about their behavior. Authority figures can bring down punishments the bully doesn’t want to deal with, so use them to your advantage.
Authority figures don’t always notice bullying behavior immediately, so make sure you bring it to their attention so they can intervene. Such behavior is typically frowned upon these days.
Reporting a bully doesn’t make you a tattletale, snitch, or coward. That’s what your bully wants you to think, so you don’t reach out to people who can help. Bullies want to feel more powerful than their victims so take away their power by talking to those who can hold them accountable for their behavior.
Dealing With Bullying When Things Get Physical
There are no guarantees that verbal harassment won’t eventually escalate when dealing with bullies. Some bullies are determined to get a reaction out of you no matter what, and they might get physical if their attempts to verbally intimidate or upset you fail.
Knowing how to defend yourself is a valuable skill to have when dealing with bullies. Besides the obvious protection it provides if you’re physically attacked, people who know how to defend themselves have a special type of confidence people can see from miles away. That makes them less likely to deal with bullies since bullies only pick easy targets.
Martial arts classes are an excellent way to learn self-defense skills and how to protect yourself during a physical altercation. Many martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Boxing are excellent for self-defense. Determine which fighting style interests you most and commit yourself to training for at least a year. Most regular people have no idea how to defend themselves so even a few months of training puts you levels ahead of the average person when things get physical.
Making your personal fitness a priority also helps to deter bullies. When was the last time you heard of a 125kg bodybuilder being bullied? People who look like they can defend themselves are less likely to be targeted by bullies or criminals. Remember that such people always look for the easiest victim they can find. No bully would decide to harass you if they thought you could stand up for yourself in any situation.
However, learning a martial art and transforming your physique doesn’t happen overnight. Some of the things you can do immediately if a bully tries to get physical with you include:
1) Try Walking Away From The Situation
The safest way to deal with a bully potentially getting physical with you is to get away from them. There’s zero chance you get hurt or end up in trouble when you walk away. Don’t allow peer pressure to fool you into thinking you’re acting like a coward for walking away from conflict.
Try your best to get away from a bully the instant you sense things will get physical. You don’t even need to say anything back. Just start walking in the opposite direction. Ideally, head someone there will be many people to increase the odds of someone stepping up to help you if things get physical.
Avoid secluded places when being harassed by a bully since that puts you at more risk. Your bully is more likely to try to harm you when they think there’s no one watching them.
2) Hang Around Your Friends, So You’re Not Isolated
Surround yourself with your friends whenever your bully is around, so you don’t feel isolated. Bullies typically pick on people who are alone or socially isolated. Hang out with friends when you’re walking around so you have people who will stand up for you if your bully shows up. If your bully still confronts you, tell them you’re busy with your friends and keep moving. Your bully is unlikely to attack you in front of your friends since there’s a good chance some of them will jump in.
3) Stand Your Ground
Stand your ground if your bully gets physical with you. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground so you don’t fall if pushed since that makes it easier for them to beat you up. Lean forward if your bully tries to push you, so you maintain your balance.
If your bully gets in your face, put on a poker face and try not to act scared. Let them know their attempts to intimidate you physically won’t be any more effective than their verbal assaults.
4) Keep Your Hands Up
Keep your hands close to your face if a bully enters your personal space. You want your forearms close to the sides of your head and your palms facing forward. If the bully throws a punch, parry their arms out of the way, so it doesn’t connect. Always bring your hands back to your head to defend against other attacks.
Stay in an active stance anytime a bully gets in your face, so they don’t catch you off guard. Strikes you don’t see coming are the most dangerous, and bullies love to sucker-punch.
5) Fight Back Only If Necessary
Do everything you can to avoid physical altercations with your bully, like the things we’ve listed above. However, sometimes, the only option you have left is to fight back. If you must engage, look to end the fight as much as possible. Use enough force to get the bully off you so you can get away from them.
Many organizations have zero tolerance for violent behavior, so you might still have to deal with some sort of punishment even if you were only defending yourself. Never start fights with bullies. Use violence only as a last resort when your bully leaves you with no other option.
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