By Armelinda Danao
You just arrived home from work, and your teener came to you sobbing, asking if she really looked like an animal. Afraid she may be a victim of bullying, you think of going to the principal’s office hoping they would punish the bullies and stop them from making fun of her.
Before you think of doing that, relax. Bullying can be addressed on your end. How? Build your teenagers’ self-confidence! The kind of confidence derived not from having all their whims so they could be “in”, but one that comes from having good values enough for them to stand proud even if they are lacking in material things.
For millenials, what better way of showing confidence than by being cool. So try teaching your teens some of these cool attitudes which they can use to deal with bullies.
Are you talking about me?
Tell your children that if someone calls them names, (like “Hey you horsie!”) they should feign ignorance and refrain from getting mad. Instead, they should ask the friend, “Are you talking about me? I thought you were talking about someone else. Is there a horse in here? Where?” Somehow it sends the message that they are not one to be easily pissed off or annoyed.
For practical reasons, you don’t have any plans of getting your kids some expensive things, but their friends keep on making them feel envious for having just bought some. Instead of feeling down, tell them to say (to themselves or to their friends) the secret mantra – “So what?” So what if I don’t have this and that? This will instill in your children that they’ll be okay even if they won’t have everything, and that material things will not define them.
I don’t care
If your kids are not troublesome but people continue to say bad things about them, instead of being upset and shout back, suggest to them to utter, “I don’t care.” Remind them to say further, “Please mind your own life. I am busy and happy with mine.”
I’m not taking it personally
A valuable lesson you could impart to your adolescents is to make them learn how to deal with criticisms. Remind them to ask people first if indeed the comments they received (about a performance, for instance) are valid. Constructive criticisms can be a way to improve. But baseless comments made just to degrade them should not be taken personally. They could say to their mean friends, “You may say whatever you want to say but I’m not the person you think I am. I know myself more than you do.”
I may be that important
Reverse psychology is always a good option. If the bad kids continue to bully your children, instruct them to acknowledge them instead by saying, “Wow, I may be that important, you even thought of giving me a name. I don’t like it, but at least you are thinking of me. Thanks for that, I feel important.”
I am not fighting you
Sometimes teeners must be taught how to control their emotions, for if not, things can get out of hand. When provoked, they could reply, “Guys, no matter how you try, I am not going to fight with you. I don’t want us to get into trouble.”
Take me or leave me
Teach your teens that this cliché is always a powerful statement: “This is who I am. I’m not going to change just to please you. So you either take me or leave me alone. I think it would be nice if you could just learn to like me, just as I like you for who you are.”
I am warning you
If there is a threat of violence, it’s best to educate your children to say, “I am warning you, if you don’t stop, I will tell the principal (or any authority).”
Let’s just be friends
Mentor your teenagers that kindness is always the best antidote for hatred. Mean friends would melt when they’d quip, “You may not like me, but I want to be friends with you. Would you like to have lunch with me? Aww!
The above suggestions may seem unconventional. Your teeners may find them hard to do. But, with proper guidance and encouragement, your teens would be able to muster the courage to do them. Then, they are on the way to becoming the coolest kids who’d be able to soften the hearts and be friends with the meanest bully in town.
Armelinda Danao has been writing since the 1980s. She has written features, scripts, critiques, ads and travelogues. She is also a storyteller where she is able to inculcate good values to kids through her stories. She has a blog at http://www.greenbarleyheals.wordpress.com.