Psychologist suggests 3-step process for standing up to bullies

Dr. Laurel Kramer said it can throw bullies off when children are honest about the effect of the bully's words or actions.

October is Anti-Bullying Month, and experts said being assertive can help deter repeat incidents of bullying.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health psychologist Dr. Laurel Kramer about how to teach children to speak up in the face of bullying.

When it comes to standing up to continued harassment, she said she suggests a three step process to throwing bullies off their game.

First, she said create a barrier - both verbally and physically - between yourself and the bully.

"It's just saying 'I don't like this.' If you don't want to say 'You're hurting my feelings,' just say 'I don't like what you're saying to me. I'm just going to go play with my playmates," Dr. Kramer said. "Putting the hands up there in front of you can also be really helpful. It's another boundary other than just words."

She said the second step is not being afraid to be honest with the bully about how they are making you feel. "Some might say that's showing a sign of weakness, but that's not how it actually plays out in the interaction," she said. "That bully may never have heard that from somebody, that their words or their actions actually hurt somebody."

When children are upfront with a bully, Dr. Kramer said that gives them chance to implement step number three: walk away. "In reality, most often for bullies who are picking on someone, hearing that they're actually really hurting someone... it throws them off." she said. "It gives them a moment to step back and say, 'Whoa, I didn't expect that response.' And that gives you a moment, as the child, to turn around and walk away."

Watch KRCG 13 at 5 p.m. next Friday for our next Family First segment - we'll talk to a certified diabetes educator about the importance of knowing your risk for diabetes.

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