EARLY YEARS: Counselor offers tips for kids to handle bullies

Published: Nov. 5, 2019 at 5:35 AM EST
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Bullying isn't new, but it's changed in recent years. Licensed professional counselor Decca Knight says it's gone from physical and verbal to what she calls "relational" bullying.

"And a lot of times that just means you are isolating another kid by what you say on social media or what you say at school, and so it looks more subtle, and sometimes it's harder to catch," says Knight.

Knight points out that there are differences between bullying and a disagreement. Bullying involves a power differential between the bully and a target. There's typically a difference in age, size or popularity, and bullying happens repeatedly.

Knight says the impact of bullying depends on the resilience and personality of the child.

"You know there's so many kids I've talked to where somebody will say something mean to them and they'll call them stupid, dumb, nerd, whatever, the kid will be like 'whatever.' And they'll be able to walk away and it doesn't impact them long term," says Knight.

One of her favorite ways to handle a bully is with humor.

"Like a good example of that could be like if somebody comes up and they say 'Oh my gosh, you dress so weird, like what's wrong with you?' A kid who's really witty and can think quickly could say something like 'Yeah, I like to dress weird, it's fun."

Whether your child is quick-witted, it's about not giving the bully the reaction they want.

"They don't get what they want. They don't get that power. They don't get that control. They don't manipulate your feelings"

So, is this generation of children less resilient than previous generations? Knight says there are definitely more stressers on kids these days.

"I think it's really difficult because these kids do have so many things coming at them that having that really good supportive family is a huge part of resilience and having those really strong relationships is a huge."

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