On Raising Kids Not to Bully (Or to Be Bullied)

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About Julie Gillis

Julie Gillis is a coach, writer, and producer focused on social justice, sex, and spirituality. She is dedicated to sexual freedom and education, equality for the LGBTQ community, and ending sexual violence. Julie intuitively helps people live their fullest lives, navigating terrain from relationships to sex education. She writes at The Austin Chronicle, Good Vibes Magazine, Flurtsite and JulieGillis.com. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter@JulesAboutTown


  1. I think it is also important to teach you children how to use physical force to defend themselves. Being a boy is violent, we get a lot less protection from the teachers than the girls do “Boys will be boys”.

    A good example is if someone invades your space, or hits you, then move your back foot backwards, place both hands on their chest and push very hard, from your legs and stomach to get them off balance, then run through them to push them over. He isn’t going to get in trouble for pushing a someone over and the bully will go and find an easier target.

    It shouldn’t be this way but it is, and teaching your son to be non-violent will make him a victim. My parents taught me to be non-violent, but that didn’t stop the other boys from using violence against me.

  2. As someone who grew up on the receiving end of bullying there is one line of defence which I found works against taunts, ridicule and humiliation. Violence is another issue though. This is possibly just for older kids but here it is.

    Don’t lie to yourself. Try and understand the motivations and emotions behind every significant action/reaction you have. Try and work out whether you do or say something because it makes you happy or feel good, you want a friend to be happy, or want a friends approval, its out of anger,you’re grumpy, hungry, you reacted because it hurt, you reacted because you believed it was true (or false), you reacted because you didn’t want to believe it was true (or false), you want revenge, because its a step on a longer term plan or you do it simply out of spite, pique or pure childishness. I am not saying you have to regret your actions, just understand why you did them. Whether you choose to change something after you understand why you did it is also up to you.

    Your brain is fantastic in trying to paint your actions as justified in every situation and more then likely you aren’t exactly the saint you think you are.

    The reason this works against bullies is this, words only have power when you believe the source. If you don’t lie to yourself and a bullies taunt is in conflict with your own self knowledge you can happily ignore them. You believe in yourself and not the bully. Bullies work on the power of suggestion through repeated taunts. You let them into your head because you appallingly enough believe, just a little, what they have to say is truer then your own self knowledge. If you don’t lie to your self then you can trust yourself implicitly. That sliver of doubt that comes with believing, just a little, that the bully knows something about you that you don’t can never gain a foothold if you trust yourself.

    Not everything a bully has to say will be false, if it isn’t false try and understand it the same way you apply to your actions above. If it is something that you can’t change then accept that whatever it is is a part of you that makes you a unique, a small piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is you. Don’t let it define you. You don’t define a puzzle by a single peice and you can’t define a person by a single trait. If they taunt you over something you can change then trust yourself. If you wanted to change that part of yourself you already would be changing it. If you don’t want to change that part then having a bully say you should is not a good enough reason for you to change your mind.

    I will give you a quick example that happened recently. I was driving home and an old shabby man was lying half on the road and half on the curb apperently unconcious. I stopped to see if he was all right and he proceeded to ask for money, he was begging and faking being hurt. I gave him about 50c in change, not much. At this point 3 neighbors came out and started swearing and abusing me for encouraging him. They told me I shouldn’t stop for people like this. The neighbors actions are those of bullies – they are trying to force me to think a certain way about someone else because they judged my actions to be wrong.

    I believe no such thing about my actions. I trust the reasons behind why I stopped and it was not an action I would choose to change.

    I turned to them and said “I don’t want to be the sort of person that won’t stop and help someone in distress. Next time you are in a car accident ask yourself if you would like someone like me to drive past because you might be ok or would you like me to stop to render assistance because you might be hurt.” With that I turned away, stepped into my car and drove off with the sound of absolute stunned silence behind me.


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