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Although how you deal with your bully will depend greatly on your age, personality and general situation, there are some common techniques that are proven effective in dealing with bullies.

Dealing with a bully? Here are some expert approved strategies for getting a handle on your bully problem:

1. Get Adults, Peers and/or Authority Figures Involved

If you’re a grade school kid, then there is no reason for you to try to deal with your bully problem on your own. Tell a trusted adult, such as one of your parents, a teacher or a school counselor about what’s going on and let them help to put a stop to the situation. Make sure you get them to understand how upset the bullying makes you feel and that it’s an ongoing occurrence.

Most schools have anti-bullying policies and strict sanctions for those that engage in bullying, but these policies can only work when school officials are made aware of a problem that’s too often obscured within the dark reaches of the playground.  If you’re a teen or adult, you may also want to let someone in authority know of the problem, especially if the bullying becomes or threatens to become violent. While it can be difficult, for authorities to put a stop to verbal bullying, violence is another matter, more black and white, and therefore more easily dealt with. Research shows that in most cases, bullying stops or reduces greatly when authority figures or peers get involved in the situation.1

2. Don’t React

Don’t give a bully any satisfaction. Bullies behave cruelly in the hopes of getting a reaction, so when you react with anger or aggression - fear or tears - you are simply giving the bully what he or she wants and increasing the likelihood of future incidents. Walk away from the bully, and try to keep you emotions in; even if you’re raging inside. It’s boring to pick on someone who gives you nothing to work with in return, so by minimizing your reaction you hopefully take all of the fun out of it for the bully and reduce the odds that he or she will repeat the bullying.

3. Act Confidently

Bullies like to pick on easy targets and they’re great at reading body language and looking for weakness, so by looking more confident and assertive, you may be able to deter some bullying. Some ways you can look strong and confidant on the outside (even if you don’t feel like that on the inside) are by holding your head up high, walking straight and tall, looking people in the eye and responding to people with a loud and clear voice.

4. Don’t Get Violent

Although we are told that bullies are cowards and that by confronting  them with violence they’ll simply back down, the truth is that reacting to bullying with violence in return may not end your problems, and if you’re unlucky, it may even make the bullying worse.When you react to bullying with violence you’re sending a clear message to the bully about just how upset you are by the bullying – and that’s exactly what the bully wants! By getting violent, you’re increasing the likelihood of further bullying. Additionally, once you get violent there’s no way to know how things are going to turn out. You may end up getting hurt, you may hurt someone else more than you meant to and you may end up getting in a lot of trouble.

5. Try to Avoid the Bully

There’s no sense in walking straight towards trouble if you can help it, so if you can avoid or minimize interactions with someone who’s giving you trouble, so much the better. If someone picks on you on your walk home from school, then try a different route. Also, try to always have a friend or two around you when you know you’ll have to come in contact with your bully.

6. Have Verbal Comebacks Prepared

If you feel up to it, try preparing and practicing some verbal comebacks to your bully’s taunts and teases in advance. Coming back with a quick retort to something your bully says lessens the power of her words and makes you seem like less of an easy target for next time.

7. Keep Your Self Esteem Up

There’s no denying that being bullied can really bring you down- after all, that’s how bullies want you to feel, so to counteract this negativity, you need to increase the positive in your life by taking part in things that make you feel great. Get involved in sports, the arts, music or whatever else you enjoy and do well and make friends with like-minded people who respect and admire you for who you are and what you do well.

8. Get Help When You Need It

In some situations, there’s just nothing you can do. When bullying gets violent or threatens to get violent, do whatever you have to do to get yourself out of the situation as quickly as possible. Do not listen to your bully’s commands, just run away to a safe place and try to get help.

9. In Extreme Situations – Change Your Situation

If nothing’s working and you can’t make the bullying stop, then you may want to think hard about changing your situation to get away from the bully. If you’re bullied in school and the administration is powerless to stop the attacks and the bullying is making it difficult for you to feel safe and happy while learning, then it might be time to consider whether moving to another school might be the best idea.

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Page last updated Jul 16, 2015

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