The aim of assertiveness techniques are for children to have some strategies to help them stand up for themselves without being aggressive or apologetic.
As a parent you should be realistic about what a young person is capable of doing for themselves in a bullying situation. Try to develop their confidence by selecting a technique that is manageable and suitable to their capabilities. Emphasise also, that if these techniques do not work for them, they must seek additional help from a parent or teacher.
A number of techniques can be used either alone or together, which can help a young person deal with a bullying encounter. These are straight-talking, fogging and power phrases.
The following straight-talking strategy can be used in situations where bullying persists but it is not appropriate in the case of a physical attack.
Step 1: Speak to the person who is bullying and enlist the help of a supportive friend if possible.
Step 2: Say what you don’t like about the person’s behaviour – stick to the facts and be calm.
Step 3: State how it makes you feel.
Step 4: Say that you want it to stop.
Step 5: Say what action you are going to take if the behaviour does not change.
Fogging is making a neutral comment to the other person, which conveys the message that you are not bothered by what they have said to you.
For example, if the bully calls out a name or makes a very nasty personal comment, a fogging response would be: “So!”, “So What!”, “Whatever!”, or “Do I Care?”. The victim should then completely ignore the person who made the comment, and continue with what they were doing.
Showing that you have a sense of humour is a sign that you can take things in your stride. If someone makes a joke at your expense, try laughing it off as a first response.
The bully might give up if you don’t show the desired reaction. However, if you are persistently being called names, you will need to use some of the other assertive techniques and get help from a teacher before it gets out of control.
A power phrase is a positive statement you make to yourself about yourself which helps you feel confident by drawing on your own inner strength. First take a few slow deep breaths to help calm yourself and as you breathe out say your power phrase quietly to yourself.
You can come up with your own but here are some ideas for power phrases which can be used in a bullying situation:
- “I can do it”
- “I’m as good as they are”
- “I don’t have to put up with this”
- “This doesn’t bother me”
- “I’m keeping calm”
- “I feel good about me”
- “I can handle this”
- “It’s their problem not mine”
- “I’m ok and I’m cool”
It is best to pick one, stick to it, and practice it at home. Remember, your power phrase will help you feel good about yourself when you come under pressure – this is the feeling the bully wants to destroy!