A "Bullying Prevention Coping Skill" is the emotionally intelligent way to teach children how to deal with mean teasers and bullies. At my elementary we teach students these coping skills to increase their self-esteem and self-worth.
I often tell parents that as a school we do everything we can to try to prevent bullying and mean teasing. However, bullying and mean teasing will often happen when the child is on their way to the rest room, at lunch, recess play time, etc.
My goal is to teach our children how to deal with mean teasing and bullying in an emotionally intelligent way. Students can take these skills into real life situation and use them the rest of their life, even as an adult!
Steps to Creating Strong Bullying Prevention Coping Skills:
First, we have to understand that children are still learning how to be empathetic to one another. You will find that one day children are best friends, then the next day they are saying mean things to each other. Children are learning how to properly socialize together.
Learn the difference between a "helpful & responsible" and "hurtful" tattle: Students learn in their guidance lessons when to tell and when to try out a coping skill. I also work with students in groups and individual sessions and we practice role playing different coping skills.
The Helpful Responsible Tattle:
I tell my students that if someone is hurting you or threatening to hurt you it is important to tell a trusted adult (bus driver, teacher, counselor, principal, parent) right away. This is bullying and it needs an adult intervention immediately!
Don't wait to tell a trusted adult. Don't worry if you get called "A Tattler". Someone else just like you is probably being bullied and you need to be the responsible one and tell a trusted adult.
The Hurtful Tattle:
Sometimes, children say mean things to each other. It is not nice to do this and it can really hurt your feelings. But, if adults do not allow children to practice "emotional intelligence" then we are stifling the child's self-esteem and social skills.
If your child comes home and tells you they have been "bullied" or "Mean Teased" first find out what happened.
Mean Tease: If your child was called a name ask them which coping skill they want to try out in a role play. Make sure your child knows you are "just pretending" and act out a mean tease scenario in which your child can role play with you in a safe place.
Practice over and over again. Have your child look you in the eye and use proper body language and a firm voice while role playing. Remember, body language is about 85% so your child has to stand up straight and be assertive.
Your child will grow in social skills and build self-esteem. They will take these skills into adulthood and they will learn to handle mean teasers throughout their life in a positive and proactive way!
Bullying: Contact the teacher, bus driver, counselor, or principal right away! This is the time for the "trusted adults" to get involved.
Bullying Prevention & Mean Teaser Coping Skills:
Remember, being emotionally intelligent means you don't hit, bully, or mean tease back. Practice these bullying / mean teaser coping skills we learned during guidance lessons at home for your emotionally intelligent homework.
Try walking away and ignoring the mean teaser, but you probably need to set a boundary and use a coping skill. It might take two or three times, but eventually, the mean teaser will learn that you are not going to let them get to you.
The Opposite Game: If someone calls you a name pretend they just gave you a wonderful compliment! Basically, you do the opposite of what they want you to do. Let's pretend someone picked on your shoes and said they thought your shoes were ugly. You would smile, look them in the eye, and say, "Yes, I love these shoes they are my favorite!" Then you walk away.
The "Thank You" Game: Sometimes it is hard to come up with an "opposite" under pressure. Some students find it easier to just say "thank you" and walk away. You will never get in trouble for saying the magic "thank you" words. Again, use good body language and smile and act as if they just said something nice to you.
The "Just Be Cool" Coping Skill: This is my favorite! It shows that you are the mature person and lets the mean teaser know they are not being "cool". You will simply look the mean teaser in the eye and tell them, "Just Be Cool". This one works for middle school and high school as well!
The "Supermodel" Coping Skill: Have you ever seen how models walk on the runway? They flip their hair and walk tall with their hand on their hip. If someone says something mean to you simply go to your "supermodel walk". You can flash them a smile, put your hand on your hip, and walk the other way. Practice makes perfect! When you practice these coping skills you are more likely to use them.
The "Hairy Eyeball" Coping Skill: Lift one of your eyebrows up and give a "look".
The "Kooky Compliment" Coping Skill: If someone says something mean to you simply give them a "kooky compliment back. Say something like, "I like your eyebrows, knees, elbows." Usually both parties start to laugh!
The "That's Not Appropriate" Coping Skill: Look the mean teaser in the eye and say with your best teacher voice, "That's Not Appropriate"! Then walk away.
The "Encyclopedia" Coping Skill: State a fact you find in an encyclopedia to the mean teaser.
The "What Would Santa Say?" Coping Skill: Imagine if Santa got teased or bullied! What would he say? Probably something like, "Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!" Then he would turn and walk away.
What Would "Frosty the Snowman Say?" Coping Skill: Frosty liked to say, "Happy New Year" when the magic hat was put on his head and he came alive.
The "Sour Lemon Face" Coping Skill: Look at the mean teaser as if they are speaking another language and you do not understand them. Think of how it would feel to put a sour lemon in your mouth. Practice that look in front of the mirror.
Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.
*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed mental health professional immediately.
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For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.
Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.
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