Resilience and Self-esteem

It is important that children and young people who have experienced bullying or who may be at risk of doing so are equipped with the skills needed to deal with it. Children and young people can be taught new ways of behaving which will give them strategies for coping with bullying. Children and young people can learn to think differently about themselves by giving themselves praise and encouragement.

Assertiveness training can be used to promote resilience and raise confidence. In safe, supportive environments, individuals who have experienced bullying can talk about their experiences and learn to practice effective responses. Using role play, children and young people can also watch other hypothetical situations and decide what is passive, what is aggressive and what is assertive. The group can talk through difficult situations and discuss different ways of coping. Individuals feel more secure and in control, with less anger and despair. Responding in a neutral but direct way takes the heat out of a situation. Sitting in a circle, a typical group will learn one technique a session. For example; making assertive statements; resisting manipulation and threats; dealing with name calling; fogging and the broken record; escaping from physical restraint; enlisting support from bystanders; boosting self-esteem; and remaining calm in stressful situations. Sessions can also be tailored to look at anger management, conflict resolution and bystander intervention.

There are many programs of work out there that can be used to improve the self-esteem of someone who has been bullied, and provides advice online and workshops face-to-face. There are also strategies that can be used to avoid further bullying in the future (e.g., the ‘broken record’ or ‘fogging’ technique).

Children and young people can learn about safe interventions to use if they witness bullying. Different roles of the bystander include:

  • Assistants, who join in and assist the bullying
  • Reinforcers, who give positive feedback to the bully, by laughing or encouraging
  • Outsiders, who stay away, but allow the bullying to continue by their ‘silent approval’
  • Defenders, who show anti-bullying behaviour, comfort the victim and try to stop the bullying

Raising awareness of the different roles of the bystander can help young people understand what they can do to help stop bullying.