15 Ways for Bullied Kids to Take Back Their Power

upset boy looking out a window

When a child is bullied, naturally they will feel like their life is out of control. After all, there is very little they can do to make someone like them or treat them differently. But the trap most victims of bullying fall into is adopting the belief that they are completely powerless in the situation.

While it is true that intervention by teachers, administrators, or parents is needed to make bullying cease, a target of bullying still has control over their reaction and they do not have to embrace victim thinking. Instead, if they focus on taking back the power in their life, the healing from bullying will move at a much quicker pace.

Here are 15 strategies your child can use to regain a sense of control over their life. Be sure you remind your child of these truths.

Take Control of Your Thoughts and Attitude

Remind your child that their attitude does not come from their circumstances but instead from how they interpret their circumstances. While the bully may be responsible for the bullying, the bully is not responsible for your child’s attitude.

Remember, your child is in charge of how they respond to bullying. Encourage your child to take full responsibility for their feelings and outlook. If they are able to remain positive despite the circumstances, the bullying will have less of an impact.

Remember That Your Thoughts Are Your Reality

Most kids do not realize that how they view a situation is ultimately how they will feel about it too. In other words, if they dwell on the humiliation of being bullied, they will feel humiliated.

But if they think about how they used self-defense or how they took a stand against the bully, they will feel empowered. The key is to get your child to reframe how they think about bullying. Encourage them to focus on the positive and to avoid dwelling on the negative.

Look for the Lesson in the Situation

No matter what happens, there is always something that can be learned from a bad situation. It may not be clear to your child at first, but eventually, they should be able to look back and see what they learned from being bullied.

For instance, did they realize that they are more resilient than they thought? Or maybe they discovered their voice and learned to be more assertive. The key is that your child finds something that they learned in spite of the pain.

Be Thankful in Every Situation Including Bullying

This may sound like crazy advice, but if you can get your child to focus on being grateful, then the bullying will not appear as significant to them. On the other hand, if they allow their issues with the bully to consume their thoughts, they will forget all the things they have to be thankful for. Remind your child that they can still find ways to enjoy life even if things are not going their way.

Allow Yourself to Be Angry

Too many times when kids are bullied, they stuff their feelings. Remind your child that they have every right to be angry. What is happening to them is wrong and it should stop.

Be sure they are taking steps to keep you and their teachers in the loop about what is happening, but encourage them to use their anger and their complaints about the situation in a productive way. While they should acknowledge their anger, the goal should be to recognize it and then move on.

Avoid Drama, Gossip, and Rumors

If your child wants to remain positive, they should avoid people that thrive on the drama, gossip, and rumors. Advise your child to avoid anyone who is curious about the situation and wants to hear what is going on just for the sake of gossip.

Most of the time, these kids are just looking for a juicy story and are not interested in helping your child. Encourage your child to tighten their circle of friends to those they can trust and that are committed to standing with them.

Take Yourself Out of Harm’s Way

Remind your child that if they want to take control of the situation, they need to be proactive and not reactive. In other words, your child needs to put together a plan that reduces the likelihood of being targeted again.

This might include avoiding bullying hot spots or having a friend walk with them in the halls. It also might mean enlisting the help of the school’s administrators in moving their locker or changing their schedule.

If your child is experiencing cyberbullying, then they may want to change their accounts and passwords or block anyone who is bullying them online. Another option is to avoid using social media. Remind them that it is never a good idea to willingly read the negative things people say. 

Focus on the Future

Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down by what is happening in the here and now and to lose focus of the big picture. Remind your child that middle school and high school are small blips in their lives. Encourage them to focus on setting goals and working toward things that really matter rather than allowing themselves to be sucked into the negative feelings that bullying can cause.

Remember Not Everyone Will Like You and That Is OK

Tell your child not to waste their time and energy trying to please everyone or trying to make people like them. Instead, focus on having integrity, being a good friend, and remaining authentic. If your child focuses on becoming a better person rather than trying to get the approval of others, friendships and relationships will happen naturally. Trying to adapt or change to fit the expectations of others is never the answer.

Also, remind them that even though a bully is targeting them, this does not mean there is something wrong with them. Bullying is about the bully’s poor choice. It is not an indicator that there is something wrong with the victim.

Take a Closer Look at Your Friendships

There is an old saying that people become like those that they spend the most time with. Encourage your child to think about the people in their life that get the bulk of their time and attention. Tell them to think about how those friends make them feel.

Ask your child whether their friends support them, if they can count on them, and if they can trust them. Then, tell them to weed out the friends that don't have their best interests in mind.

Value Accountability

If your child is stuck in a rut of blaming others for how they feel or their unhappiness, then they are handing over control of their life. But if your child learns to hold themselves accountable for their feelings and hold the bully accountable for the bullying, they will feel more in control of their life.

This accountability also builds confidence and a strong sense of self. Kids learn to accept responsibility for the things that they have the power to change.

Stop Making or Accepting Excuses

Everyone has said something hurtful, made a poor choice, or engaged in unhealthy behavior. The key is that they take responsibility for those choices.

If your child has a friend who is a bully but is unwilling to recognize it, encourage them to stop making excuses for the friend’s bad behavior. Healthy friends recognize their bad behavior and accept responsibility for their actions. Bullies and mean girls do not.

If your child has someone like that in their life, they need to cut ties and move on. Accepting excuses for bad behavior enables the person to continue treating your child unfairly.

Find a Way to Heal

Your child might benefit from outside counsel in some bullying situations. Talk with your child’s pediatrician for recommendations on counselors who deal with bullying issues.

There is no shame in getting a little extra help. No one gets to adulthood without having a few issues that need to be addressed and sorted out, and counselors are trained to help with these issues. What’s more, a lot of kids that have been bullied struggle with depression and anxiety. These issues are often best handled by a professional.

Give Up the Desire for Revenge

While it is often a natural desire for kids to want revenge for being hurt or humiliated, it is never a good idea. Remind your child that revenge will never make them feel better. Instead, encourage them to focus on forgiving the bully.

But be patient—forgiveness is a decision that takes time. It does not mean that your child is excusing the bully's actions, nor do they need to forget what happened. Instead, forgiveness allows them to stop dwelling on what happened and to move on. 

Remember You May Feel Lonely, But You Are Not Alone

Bullying often causes bullied kids to feel alone, hopeless, and vulnerable. While these are normal reactions to bullying, your child needs to know that they are not truly alone. Remind them that they have your support and their friends’ support.

It is essential that your child realizes this. Too many times, kids that are bullied believe the lies perpetuated by the bully and end up considering drastic alternatives to their situation, like cutting or even suicide. Do what you can to help alleviate feelings of loneliness and be sure you available to listen anytime they want to unload.

If your child is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.