“You couldn’t make the shot if you tried.” “You’re no good.”
These were the types of statements a bully regularly shouted at 11-year-old Daniel while he tried to play basketball. The other boy would constantly steal the ball from him, leaving Daniel frustrated. He retaliated with the same kind of trash talk, but the situation quickly escalated, and soon both boys were in trouble.
Fortunately, Daniel was able to talk with his counselor at ACH’s Real Help for Real Life program. The counselor used special cards to help Daniel talk through the situation. “Feelings” cards display a different emotion, such as excited, happy, frustrated or angry. The “needs” cards display basic needs like food, water and shelter or complex needs like love, understanding and trust.
Using this technique, Daniel and his counselor were able to identify that Daniel was feeling confused and frustrated and that his needs included fun/play and being seen for his skills. This led to a discussion about fairness, safety at school and wanting to be heard and understood. Daniel learned to put himself in the other boy’s shoes and ultimately decided to challenge the other boy to a game and to tell him to let his actions back up his words. Thanks to this change in approach, the two boys are now friends.
Although Daniel’s story had a positive outcome, more than 1 out of every 5 students report being bullied. For those who have been bullied, ACH counselors offer this advice:
First, don’t disregard your child’s feelings. Listen to them and do not try to minimize the impact bullying has on them. Assure them they are not alone and you will support them through this phase. Be in constant communication with teachers and school personnel and monitor their behavioral changes and performance at school. –Angel Perez, LCDC-I
It is important to help each child identify personal strengths and supportive relationships. This helps victims of bullies become resilient and to realize there are people who love and care for them as a person no matter what someone else says.
I also like to role-play how to handle different scenarios and practice using assertive voices. It is hard to think in the heat of the moment, so it helps kids to be armed with an effective response.—Kelsi Sulgrove, LMSW
We look at the needs not met by the person being bullied, like wanting safety, consideration and not getting hurt. Help them feel heard and feel safe. Then, if we can focus on the root cause of what need the bully is trying to meet (even if it’s a strategy we don’t like), we may be able to help the ‘bully’ find other ways to get their need met without harming others. The goal is to reduce conflicts, help others see the harm done and to restore relations. –Owen Kinser, BAAS
Always let your voice be heard. Tell someone who can help you.—Dania Rodriguez
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and ACH is here to help. For those that would like additional support, ACH offers free counseling and skill-building classes. Please visit our website www.realhelpforreallife.org to learn more.