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Bullying: Techniques for Dealing with Taunting, Teasing, & Tormenting
On the last track, we discussed two concepts for helping students work together to deal with bullying at school. These two concepts are, intervening, and the anti-meanness test.
On this track... we will discuss three methods for helping students cope with doubts they may have regarding making a commitment to stand up to bullies. These methods are, Making a Commitment, Airing Doubts, and the Opposites technique.
Method #1: ‘Making a Commitment’
An example of a verbal commitment which I suggest to my clients is, "From this moment on, I will do my best to treat all my peers with complete respect, especially when they are acting their worst. I know I can do this by not taking meanness seriously, and talking only to the good part of people with compliments, questions, agreements, reversers, I-statements, feeding back, naming feelings, golden nuggets, tone twisters, disconnected comments, playing the game, blocks, and pushers."
My client James, age 9, admitted he felt nervous about making a verbal commitment to himself. James stated, "Does this mean if I’m not nice to bullies all the time, I’m breaking my commitment?"
I stated to James, "Well, the commitment states that you will do your best to be respectful. You might want to remind yourself that this commitment is a promise to always try. It is not a promise to always be respectful. Everybody does the best they can do under each circumstance. Try thinking of your commitment as a reminder that treating people with respect, even bullies, is how you want to act."
Clearly, inviting a client to make a verbal commitment to her or himself is also valuable, because this allows the client’s doubts to surface. I stated to James, "When you read this commitment, you might start hearing some doubts come to your mind. They might sound like, ‘I’m not smart enough or brave enough to do that,’ or ‘what if I want to be mean myself?’ When I feel doubts like this, I try to remind myself that doubts are just old tape recordings that have gotten stuck in my brain and play very loudly."
James stated, "I feel like something’s stuck in my brain too. When I read that commitment, I just start thinking that it might not work, over and over again."
Method #2: Airing Doubts
Think of the technique you are currently using to help clients quiet their doubts. Would adding the Airing Doubts technique to the technique you are already using be helpful to your James?
I usually suggest that my clients make this commitment to themselves over again every so often. I find that this helps clients by giving them the chance to periodically air out and quiet their doubts, which in turn helps clients to feel more connected with their strength.
Method #3: Opposites
I then asked Brandy to come up with an opposite way to phrase the doubt, "What if I can’t do it?" Brandy stated in a calm, curious voice, "What if I can do it?"
I stated, "That’s an excellent way to rephrase a doubt. Let’s try another example." I put a mean, ugly expression on my face and stated angrily, "I can’t let anyone get the best of me!"
Brandy used a cheerful, positive voice and stated, "I’m scared to try something new!"
I stated to Brandy, "Don’t be surprised if sometimes your anti meanness club gets the giggles while they are helping each other twist their doubts into their opposites. You might also hear groans or tears. Try to keep at it in a positive way until each person recognizes their strengths and abilities."
Think of your James or Brandy. Would Making a Commitment, Airing Doubts, or the Opposites technique be useful to her or him?
On this track... we have discussed three methods for helping students cope with doubts they may have regarding making a commitment to stand up to bullies. These methods are, Making a Commitment, Airing Doubts, and the Opposites technique.
On the next track, we will discuss helping the victim overcome the negative emotional impact of bullying.
- Cowie, Helen. Peer Support as an Intervention to Counteract School Bullying: Listen to the Children. Children & Society, Jul2011, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p287-292.
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