As the author of the humorous children’s novel The Annoying Ghost Kid, I am occasionally invited to make an author visit to an elementary school. I’ve developed a three part program that includes an animated reading from my book; an interactive lesson in how the creative process of writing a story works; and, since the book is about a ghost who bullies two living kids, I share some techniques for dealing with a bully.
The anti-bullying techniques I share are simple and designed to be easy to remember even in the unexpected moment of a bully attack. There is one for verbal attacks and one for physical attacks both of which are peaceful and positive, yet still enable the victims to stand up for themselves without escalating the aggression. Today, I’m writing about my technique for physical attacks.
I begin by explaining that most bullies want an easy victim, someone who is going to cry and run away. They don’t want to bully someone who will fight back. Bullies are cowards at heart because they themselves are afraid. They don’t believe anyone likes them; they feel worthless; and think that if they bully someone it will make them feel important.
I go on to say: if someone hits you, shoves you, trips you, or tries to hurt you in any other way, I want you to immediately face them, throw out the palm of your hand like a traffic cop signaling “Stop,” and yell as loud as you can, “BACK OFF!” All while giving them a squinty-eyed stare which you hold for a long moment. Then continue on your way as if nothing happened. What this will do is make your bully think twice about attacking you again. It will make them think that you are tougher than they thought. You don’t have to believe it, you only have to make them believe it.
Now I’d like to illustrate how well this works by sharing a story with you of a time that I bullied someone. You see, I was once guilty of bullying a snake. Yes, I said a snake, but it was an accident and I didn’t realize I was being a bully until he told me.
It happened several years ago when I went with some friends to visit the Civil War battlefield at Kennesaw Mountain State Park near Atlanta, Georgia. We arrived at the park and started walking across a large grass covered field. Nearby was a bronze historical marker, so we headed toward it to read about the events that took place on the battleground spreading out before us. As we approached, we saw what looked like a coil of black cable, glistening in a spot of sunshine on the ground in front of the sign. When we got closer, the cable uncoiled itself and slithered off about twenty feet away.
It was a beautiful black snake that was very thick and nearly eight feet long. I recognized it as being either a black racer or a black rat snake both of which are non-poisonous and like open grassy areas. It was such a pretty snake that I just wanted to get a better look. I followed it over to where it stopped, but when I got within ten feet, it slithered off again another twenty feet. I paused and figured that if I kept following, it would simply keep slithering away, so I thought, I’m smarter than a snake, I’ll just circle around and approach from the opposite direction. Crouching low as I walked, so it wouldn’t see me, I got within three feet of it. I completely startled it. It reared up about two feet in the air, flattened its neck out making it look like a cobra, then it opened its mouth and hissed very loudly. That in turn startled me. I leapt backwards farther than I’ve ever jumped before and nearly fell on my backside. Now, I don’t know if you speak snake or not, but I can understand, “BACK OFF” in any language. So, I decided it was time to leave that snake alone, and rejoin my friends.
As I said, I knew that snake wasn’t poisonous and if it bit me that it wouldn’t hurt more than giving me a small cut, but even so, when it hissed at me, it sure did make me think twice. That’s all you have to do with a bully, make him have doubts. Make him think you will be more trouble than it’s worth. This technique isn’t just for kids; it also works for adults. I have a friend who has successfully used this technique while riding the subways in New York City.
If you know of someone who is bullied, please share this article with them.
Read more of my articles on Bullying:
Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is an author, humorist/speaker and innovation consultant. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. Robert is the author of ...and Never Coming Back, a psychological mystery-novel about a motion picture director; The Annoying Ghost Kid, a humorous children's book about dealing with a bully; and the inspirational book: Wisdom in the Weirdest Places. For more information on Robert, please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.