9 Self-Defense Strategies to Ward Off Bullying

Children playing in park
Nick David / Getty Images

Did you know that if your child is unprepared for bullying or unaware of their surroundings, they are more likely to be targeted? No one wants their child to be defenseless when it comes to bullying. But if you do not prepare your kids in advance, they will be. Talk to you kids about how to deal with bullying before it happens. Discuss the importance of avoiding bullying hot spots, how to stay safe on the bus and how to stand up to bullies. Also, equip them with some self-defense techniques.

When most people think of self-defense, they think of hitting back. But a large part of self-defense has nothing to do with hitting or striking another person. It involves being aware of your surroundings, listening to your gut, leaving before a problem erupts, using a confident voice and carrying yourself with confidence. Here are nine strategies kids can use to defend themselves against school bullies.

Use Confident Body Language

One of the best ways to prevent bullying is to be sure your children have a healthy self-esteem and carry themselves with confidence. By contrast, if children slouch and keep their eyes averted, this makes them appear weak and easy to target. Work with your children on these techniques. And remind them that even when they do not feel confident, like walking into a crowded lunchroom for the first time, they should walk as they do.

Teach your child to use good posture, walk with a sense of purpose and make eye contact with those around them to project an air of self-confidence.

Stay in a Group

Bullies are less likely to target someone who is with a group of friends. Be sure your child knows that it is best to go places in groups, especially into bullying hot spots at school. If your child does not have a group of friends, work with them to develop friends. Friendship is a protective factor against bullying. Even one close friend can go a long way in preventing bullying.

Trust Your Gut

Teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings. Have them put their cell phones away and look around them. Is there a group of rough-looking boys on the corner? Is there a strange car at the bus stop? What about the person in the back of the McDonald's watching their every move? Do these things set off alarm bells inside? Does something not feel right in the pit of their stomach?

Teach your child to be aware of their surroundings. Being aware of what’s going on around them and trusting their instincts, will not only help protect them from bullying, but it is also an important life skill.

Being aware of what is happening around them can help them avoid being mugged or attacked as an adult as well.

Focus on Flight, Not Fight

Too many times, kids do not realize that when things look like they could head the wrong direction, that they should just turn around and walk away. Be sure they know that it is not cowardly to walk away. Instead, remind them that it takes courage to walk away from a situation that is escalating.

Stress to your kids that they need to leave a situation before it even gets out of hand. Identifying when a situation is about to take a turn for the worse and walking away is one of the best ways to avoid bullying situations.

Use a Strong Voice

If your child does find himself in a potential bullying situation, sometimes using a confident voice and being assertive will diffuse the situation. Many times, bullies are looking for an easy target. And a strong confident voice may cause bullies to back off. Have your children practice speaking assertively and in a strong voice at home. Then, when they are in a difficult situation it will come naturally.

Keep Your Eyes on the Exit

Sometimes kids will get into a situation where they cannot walk away immediately. Maybe their path is blocked or they feel it isn’t safe to make a run for it. In this case, they should still look for an exit and when the opportunity presents itself, make a break for it. Remind them that it is not a sign of weakness to run from a bully. In fact, it takes courage and strength. It also keeps them safe.

Attract Attention

Make sure your kids know that it is acceptable and encouraged to make a lot of noise if someone is threatening them or hurting them. Not only should they be using a strong voice, but they also can shout, yell or scream. The idea is to scare off a bully by attracting a lot of attention to the situation, especially from adults or teachers. This tactic also is important if the child is being attacked by a stranger during an attempted abduction. Being quiet and submissive is never a good idea.

Take a Self-Defense Class

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your kids is to enroll them in a self-defense class. For instance, the American Taekwondo Association offers a number of options geared specifically for children. Kids will not only learn how to defend themselves, but they also will learn confidence and self-control. Many times, diffusing bullying situations involves knowing how to respond to a situation in a calm and confident manner before it ever gets to physical bullying.

Use Self-Defense Techniques

Although it is never a good idea to encourage your child to fight, there are certain self-defense techniques they can use to protect themselves when attacked. For instance, there are techniques for blocking a punch and for removing a bully’s fingers from their wrists as well as techniques on how to get free when being restrained. And there are techniques on how they can defend themselves from a group attack. All these strategies can be learned in a self-defense class.

Remember, when teaching your kids about self-defense skills against bullies, encourage them to diffuse the situation by using a strong voice or walking away. Also, check with your school district on their policies about self-defense. Some schools have a zero tolerance policy and will suspend both the bully and the victim when physical bullying takes place. Be sure you understand the potential outcome when your kids defend themselves.

Was this page helpful?