October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.  Most parents are acutely aware of the potential for our children to be hurt at school by a bully.  The stakes are even higher as the playing field opens up into a world wide web of potential threats. It is as though our kids never get a break from the possibility of being a target of a bully.  Whether the bullying is physical, emotional, obvious or anonymous, in person or on social media, the impact is still hurtful, tactless, shaming, and sometimes outrightly dangerous.  

Here are some skills that you can pass on to your kids to help empower them in situations where they feel intimidated or threatened.  

Also, visit summitpsychologicalservices.com/services-5 and celebrate the awareness month with us.   

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1: Stay Aware, Keep Calm, Show Respect, and Feel Confidence

Staying on the look-out for potential problems can help you get ready to deal with them.  Bullies are less likely to choose as their targets kids who are:

  • Walking with their heads held high

  • Keeping their back straight and looking confident

  • Having a relaxed face and body

Practice walking around in this way and see if you feel more positive and confident

2: Leave in a Powerful, Positive Way

One of the best forms of defense is to get out of a situation which has the potential for you to become a bully’s target.   Practice walking calmly and positively. Then look around to make sure the bully has gone on to do something else.

3: Set A Boundary

If you need to deal with a bullying situation directed at you or others, here are some things you might be able to say to a bully:

  • “That didn’t sound kind.”

  • “That sounds prejudiced.”

  • “Please stop saying that.”

  • “Stop!” Put your arms across your chest and then walk away.

  • “STOP! Please get out of my way. I just want to leave. Get out of my way. I just want to go!”

4: Use Your Voice

Bullies don’t want to get into trouble.  So, drawing attention to their behaviors can stop them in their tracks.  Yell “NO! STOP! LEAVE! HELP!” really loudly.  Make your body tall, look the bullying in the eyes and speak in a firm voice with both hands in front of your body and palms facing outwards, like a wall.  Then leave and go to an adult to report what happened and get help as soon as possible.

5: Protect Your Feelings

It is very important that if you are bullied, that you don’t give the bully any power by believing what he or she said.  The worst part of being bullied is to think the bully is right!  Say to yourself the opposite of whatever the bully says to you.  If a bully tells you “you are a loser”, squash the thought with a more powerful one -- “I like myself and others do too.”

6: Take a Stand to Include Everyone

There is nothing more hurtful than being left out or excluded.  In addition to asking for adult help, try persisting firmly and ask what you need to do to be included.  Best of all, speak up for another person who is being left out.  Your voice might have more power than theirs in that moment. 

7: Ask for Adult Help

Sometimes adults appear to be too busy to help.  Sometimes they even tell you to deal with the problem yourself, or to stop tattling.  Don’t give up until you get the help you need.  Stay calm and use a firm voice to tell them that there is a safety problem or that you are feeling unsafe around a person or in a situation.

Psychologists Jeffrey S. Kahn, PhD, MAC, CGP, DABPS and Alison W. Johnson, PsyD had a vision.

They imagined a center where New Jersey’s most skilled psychotherapists—from all disciplines of applied psychology—could work under one roof. They saw a warm, welcoming, supportive space for individuals, couples, families, and groups of all ages. They pictured a communal environment that fostered counselor-to-counselor consultation and collaboration, and a spectrum of creative, innovative services.​

Most important, they envisioned a place where people could not only heal their psychological wounds—but also learn how to achieve their goals and live happier, more fulfilling lives.

Transforming dream into reality, Drs. Kahn and Johnson established Summit Psychological Services, P.A. in 1992. SPS has since grown to become one of the largest, most comprehensive private psychotherapy practices in New Jersey. Our Summit and Montclair offices have served thousands of people from northern and central New Jersey (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union, Warren, and nearby counties); New York City; and Eastern Pennsylvania.

As an SPS client, you benefit from the best of all worlds: the comfort, privacy, and safety of a trusted therapist’s office; a wide range of services; and the depth and breadth of expertise offered by our multi-specialty team.

Summit Psychological Services offers two locations: in Summit at 482 Springfield Avenue and in Montclair, at 94 Valley Road. To reach us, contact Information@SummitPsychologicalServices.com or call 908-273-5558.