This article was inspired by the amazing stop bullying solution genius, Izzy Kalman. Anyone who has a problem with bullying should immediately buy his book, Bullies 2 Buddies: How to turn your enemies into friends, and check out his website, Bullies2buddies.com, and even take his video course. His level of psychological wisdom puts him near the level of saintly, and he is the only one out there who offers any real solutions in this area. Therefore, I feel I must absolutely give my readers the benefit of finding out about the stop bullying solution in my blog. I also have many of my own ideas about how to resolve bullying, so I have synthesized them with Izzy Kalman's and added elucidation.
So what is the stop bullying solution?
I was bullied somewhat as a youngster and I was never able to figure out a solution until my second years of college, when I was 19. I had a best friend named Jonathan Weidenbaum. We fondly called him “Ep.” He was extremely well liked by everyone. I wondered why he was so successful, and so I decided to study and observe his ways. I noticed that whenever he would see an acquaintance coming towards him from far away, he would call out in a loud voice, “Oh my Lord! It's Toni!” We went everywhere together, and I noticed that he would give a big hearty hello even to people who are complete jerks and who I would have much rather ignored. In addition, I spoke to Ep about how to win friends and influence people. He really educated me, telling me about the concept of a fresh chance. Whenever someone bothers you, insults you, or does anything inappropriate or unfriendly, don't hold onto resentment or bear a grudge. Next time you see that person, give him a completely fresh chance to choose to change his ways and treat you respectfully. You do that by giving him a big, warm, hearty hello, treating them like your best friend and like you've totally forgotten about his previous insult. In addition, if someone does something embarrassing or makes a fool of himself, don't remind him of his mistake or think of any less of him next time you see him. Give him a fresh chance to behave respectfully by giving him a big hearty hello. This will make people love you and totally regret the day I ever did anything bothersome to you. I began implementing Ep’s techniques, greeting everyone warmly and loudly from far away and giving everyone a fresh chance. I went out of my way to be particularly friendly to even the biggest jerks or people that I had hated in the past. In addition, around the same time I consulted with my wise old grandmother, Mema, who told me to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, Pepa, and to be charming to everyone. She told me to say hello to everyone warmly no matter how much it kills me and how much I dislike them, just like Ep. So I resolved that I would make friends with everyone, even the worst people. The results were amazing. I became a really popular guy on campus. People even came up to me and asked what happened, what kind of changes come over me, how did I become so friendly. I became firmly convinced of the power of friendliness could overcome any interpersonal problem.
So that is the advice that we must give to anyone who is being bullied. You must go out of your way to say hello to even the biggest bully. As a matter fact, you must say hello to the biggest, worst bully, first, from far away before you get close to him. Call him by name, say “Hey, Johnny, what's up? How are you doing?” Go up to him and shake his hand and say, “What's going on?” This will completely surprise and disarm the bully. You see, saying hello to someone is actually a very important act of kindness. By doing so you are giving the person tremendous consideration and respect. You give the bully, who until now hated you, a reason to think, “Maybe this guy’s not so bad after all.” In addition, it solves another problem. When a child is being bullied by someone, he tends to avoid that bully like the plague for fear that he will get bullied more. The problem is that expressing fear and avoidance of the bully is extremely insulting to him because you're treating him with loathing. Moreover, your fear shows him you are treating him like an enemy and fearing him only gives him power over you. All this will encourage him to bully you more. Therefore no matter how he treats you, give him a fresh chance, going up to him warmly greeting him and treating him like your best friend, and you will soon have him completely charmed. That's a big part of the solution you must treat everyone like a best friend, adopting an attitude of kindness and generosity towards everyone. Never say “This particular person is not my friend, I don't want to talk to him.” Be friends with everyone no matter how much it kills you, just like Mema said.
Learn to laugh at your self!
Around the same time, I was working as a waiter in a restaurant and the pizza man used to make cracks at me. I told him to stop because I didn’t like it, and he said to me, “C’mon, you can’t tell me I can’t kid around!” Somehow, I realized that he was right. He was working under a hot oven all day and he needed to kid around to preserve his sanity. Kids in school are no different, they need to kid around, even at each other’s expense. Therefore, rule number two is that you need to learn to be able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. Many times, bulling is just an attempt to kid around, enjoy some jokes and relieve the boredom. When you get angry at some simple jokes, then the bully says, “You won’t let me kid around, I’ll have my fun in an even crueler, more aggressive way. Therefore you can resolve the whole situation by learning to laugh at yourself and even make more jokes about yourself. The bullies will actually love and respect you for it. In addition, you are doing the bullies a great act of kindness by providing them pleasure and entertainment and you will make them your friends. But if you demand that they never make fun of you, you are taking away all their fun and you're driving them to have their fun in a different way, by bullying you in an aggressive and cruel way.
Don’t get angry or try to get them to stop!
Often however bullies are just trying to get pleasure out of exercising power sadistically over others, therefore in such a case apply rule number three, do not get afraid, angry, indignant insulted or defensive when someone bullies you, because that way you were only giving the bully the power and the great sadistic pleasure of controlling and manipulating you. He will think “Wow it is so exhilarating, enjoyable and empowering to bully you when you get so angry, insulted and upset. I’m going to keep doing it!” Rather you need to show the bully that his insult doesn't in any way get you to feel bad about yourself, that it doesn't affect you, you are comfortable with your own shortcomings and you are humble. This definitely takes a good dose of self-confidence and self-esteem, which I am aware many children lack, but gradually over time they can get themselves psyched and build it up. This will completely prevent the bully from having power over you and will inspire him to like you. Therefore, if someone bullies you, do not get upset or angry and most importantly do not try to get them to stop, because trying to get them to stop shows that it bothers you and that is what gives them the pleasure and power and they will only bully you more. When they see that you don't get insulted, angry, upset or defensive and continue to treat them like a friend, their bullying will lose all It’s reward and it will stop.
Freedom of speech
You see, as Izzy Kalman wisely reminds us, everyone has freedom of speech even to insult people. The idea that they don't have the right to insult you and that you must stop them from doing so, only gives them the power that they want and you will fall into a trap. Therefore, you have to get yourself psyched up that they can make fun of you all they want and it doesn't bother you a bit. As I said, some kids just simply cannot tolerate being insulted because their self-esteem is so weak that they are apt to actually believe the insults themselves and feel truly terrible about themselves. Therefore you need to educate a child and help him to himself conclude that he truly is a good and worthy person and no insults or teasing that anyone does can take that away from him. Therapy will help with this, and patience. The stop bullying solution is a long term, lifelong skill that takes years to master.
When insulted, say things like “If you like to make fun of me be my guest,” and “If you want to put me down you can do it all day long, I don't care,” and “ When you want to make fun of someone come to me.” Make jokes about yourself and laugh with them. When you don't attack them, get defensive or show fear, and you laugh at yourself, it is impossible for them to see you as an enemy, and they will be much closer to liking you and becoming your friend.
Let’s say someone insults you or teases you about the way you look, don't argue with them and try to deny it or change their mind. Agree with them, “You're right, I don't look so great. I wish I was good looking like you.” Such a response will turn them into your friend.
If someone tries to exclude you from their group,
don't get upset, insulted or indignant, just say “Ok, that's fine. I’m probably not cool enough for you guys anyway.” Your self-acceptance and humility will paradoxically and amazingly prove to them that you actually are cool enough to be in their group. But if you get offended, you will show them that you were only concerned with your own honor and that you are insecure, and that will prove to them that you indeed are not cool and they will continue to exclude you.
If another child seriously attacks you and tries to really hurt you, that is not bullying, it is a crime, and you need to seek help from the appropriate authorities. But if the child say pushes you or hits you lightly, the wisest course is to not respond at all, just like if he insulted you. Don't get defensive, angry or attack back. This way they will think that you’re tough and not a crybaby and will gain respect for you. If they keep it up or start to really hurt you, first say, “That really hurts, please don't do that again,” without attacking or getting defensive. The trick here is to reduce the conflict from a physical one to a verbal one. Engage the bully in a conversation, say, “Are you mad at me about something?” If he tells you what he is mad about, you have succeeded at getting him to stop hitting you and now you can deal with the problem verbally. If he is mad about something you did, validate their claim, apologize and show him that you won’t do it again. Only if they are really, truly hurting you do you go for help.
Bullies who try to take your things…
If a child tries to intimidate you into giving him a dollar and you can afford it, give him the dollar generously as you would to a friend in need. This will disarm him. If he asks you for another dollar the next day say, “What you want a dollar every day? I wish I could give you one but I simply can't afford it. If the bully wants something of yours express empathy, how much you wish you could give him what he wants, you would love to help him but unfortunately you just can't afford to give it up. Show him that he's your friend and you wish you could help him, and help him out whenever you can as you would a friend.
Basically, you want to show the bully that you can be his benefactor, that you will be kind and helpful to him and that it pays for him to be your friend because he will benefit so much from your friendship and by being nice to you.
Never tattle on a bully!
Never complain to the teachers or principal and try to get them to discipline the bully. Getting the bully in trouble will just cause him to hate and despise you and lose all respect for you. It will encourage him to bully you more and will create enemies. Only with real physical attacks which is not bullying but a crime and requires possibly police involvement do you call for help. 99 percent of the time it’s not a serious threat and if you use the techniques described here, you will be empowered. You will possess your own solutions to the problem and will not be dependent on anyone. These techniques will greatly increase everyone's respect for you and you will become much more popular.
How to deal with nasty rumors.
If people are spreading rumors about you and someone confronts you with the rumor such as, “I heard that you wet the bed,” Izzy Kalman has invented an ingenious solution. Don't try and deny the rumor, get upset or defensive, or try to find out who started it. Just simply ask the person, do you believe the rumor? If they say actually no, then the problem is solved right there and you come out on top. If they answer yes that they believe the rumor, like for example they say, why would people be spreading it if it wasn't true, simply answer, “You can believe it if you like. People can spread rumors about me if they want and it doesn't bother me.” The person will feel foolish for believing a nasty rumor about you for no reason. You don't have to admit that the rumor is true, you just have to give them the right to free speech, not let it bother you and ask them if they believe it. This will only increase their respect for you and the rumor will die down.
If someone calls you fat on social media answer back, “You're right, I'm trying so hard to lose weight, I wish I was thin and beautiful like you.” This will totally disarm the bully. She will feel terrible if she continues to bully someone who is so humble and gracious to her. This response completely takes the wind out of her sails because it makes you immune to insults. You are showing that you totally accept your weight or physical shortcomings, and therefore there's no way that she can get you to feel bad about yourself, therefore there's no pleasure in it for her and she will stop. The key to dealing with online bullying is not to get upset, defensive, fight back and try to find out who's bullying you, just like in person, because all that will do is just make you look stupid. It will give them the satisfaction and enjoyment of making you upset and they will bully you more.
How to teach a child the stop bullying solution.
When teaching a child how to implement the stop bullying solution, we must do it very gently and gradually or he will not be willing to accept it. First of all, we must not invalidate his feelings of his suffering about being bullied. We must first reflect his feelings and show empathy, “Wow, it must be so hard for you. Getting bullied must be so painful. Having those kids make fun of you all the time must feel terrible. It's very unfair and not nice of them. I'm so sorry that's happening to you” Then tell them that you may have some advice to help stop getting bullied. When you explain to them this advice, be careful not to make it seem like the bullying is their fault, that they deserve to get bullied for not treating the kids like their friends or for getting angry. That will just get the child upset and he will be unwilling to listen to your advice. Rather validate their feelings showing them that you are aware that it's totally not their fault and it's really unfair what's happening to them, and you just want to help them. In other words, if the child has a problem that he doesn't know how to take a joke and laugh at himself, and he gets too angry and insulted whenever anyone teases him, that is a mistake, but when you point out his mistake you cannot make it feel like you are criticizing him or he will resist and will not want to implement your advice. Rather reassure him that it's not his fault and he's not doing anything wrong, but you're just going to help him by teaching him some ingenious tricks to stop the bullying. Tell him you agree, that they are totally wrong to pull you down. They are the bad ones and he's the victim, but you have some ingenious ways actually overcome them.
It’s a long term solution that takes years to master!
I know most parents are desperate for an immediate solution to the bullying, but the truth is anti-bullying strategies require long-term solutions. He needs to learn how to deal with bullies not just right now but for the rest of his life. It may take a few years together with psychotherapy to implement and fully master the stop bullying solution. He will have to develop self-confidence and self-esteem. So be patient with your child and these methods and give them time to work. But if you pressure the child too fast, “Why can't you just do it already,” the child will reject all of your advice and you will never accomplish anything.
Anti-bullying strategy groups
There’s one more very effective anti-bullying technique that has been proven in a scientific study to work well. The down side is it is very expensive in time and resources. It involves setting up a series of group therapy sessions with the peers of the child who is being bullied, including some of the bullies in the group, and encouraging them to come up with solutions to help make the bullied child happy in school. It has proven to be a very helpful solution over several months, but requires a serious commitment by the school, and is maybe only possible in small specialized schools with a lot of resources.