When under the stress of a bullying situation, virtually anyone can forget to do something, ask certain questions or perform a certain task. That is the nature of being under stress and not being trained to be in that particular situation, whatever that situation may be. Between stress, lack of preparation, and the dump of adrenalin into your body, virtually anyone would fall victim to the stress of the situation.
Since we know this is true, it is important to make sure that our children are prepared for a bully and what to do if they become the target of a bully. The only truly effective way to make sure your children are prepared is to remember the “Rule of R-Cubed” (Read, Recite, Role Play) and role play scenarios with your children until you are comfortable that they have the necessary skills to deal with a bully and they have the necessary habits in place on how to report a bully problem.
When working with your child on reporting a bully problem it is important that they understand and actually practice reporting problems using the “5 W Method.” The “5 W Method” is simply role playing with your child on reporting to you, or a teacher, etc., the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of what happened to them at the time of the bullying incident. Now in order to do this, you will need to have practiced the stress reduction method I described in a previous article about breathing techniques. If you have not read that article, the title is “The Best Way To Teach Your Kids To Stay Calm If They Are Being Bullied.”
The process is pretty straight forward, but unfortunately most people short-cut the process and either do not practice enough or they simply think that their child has the necessary skills and will magically remember details under stress without ever having sufficiently practiced. Both of these shortcomings are easily overcome by simply putting yourself in your child’s place and frame of mind and realizing that they do not have your level of sophistication or your years of dealing with people and problems.
To get the process rolling simply design some scenarios where your child will have to practice the stress reduction method from before and also remember the five W’s and then report them to you. Here is most parents’ mistake: they try to dream up some over-the-top scenarios and they end up traumatizing their children; that simply doesn’t work and in fact will only make the problem worse.
To overcome this problem, first explain to your child that you are going to do a fun activity that is designed to test their memory skills and their observation skills. When you make it a game with an objective and a fun reward you will get full engagement from your kids and that is exactly what is needed.
For a simple drill, simply set up an obstacle course with some things in your yard, at a local park, etc. In the obstacle course make sure they run around a barrier, crawl under objects, go over barriers etc. Make it challenging, but not dangerous, and make sure that you set a time frame for completion that is short so they have to hurry.
Explain the obstacle course, where they need to go, and how much time they have. Then tell them that you are going to ask them very specific questions about what they see on their journey and they need to remember in order to get maximum points / reward, etc. Then tell your child to cover their eyes. Place objects, pictures, people, or whatever you want in specific places throughout the course. Once you are done placing objects, have your child uncover their eyes and send them quickly through the course as fast as they can.
The running of the course will simulate the stress of the bullying situation because it will drive up their heart rate, send their respiratory system into overdrive, and cause their adrenal system to generate adrenalin. When they get back to you at the end of the course make sure that you give them lots of kudos and have them immediately start the stress reduction process. After a minute or so begin to ask them questions about the items placed on the obstacle course, questions like: “What was the color of the crayon under the tree?”, “How many ping pong balls did you count on the chair?”, “What sports team logo was on the hat on the tree,” etc. will cause them to have to think about the course and what they saw. With some creativity you can add all kinds of things to this drill, from people talking to them, songs on the radio as they ran by etc. In about 90 minutes you can have dramatically improved your child’s observation and reporting skills as well as created a fun bonding experience that they will remember forever. Additionally, this type of format can be used for fire drills at home, earthquake drills or even burglary situations as long as it is done slowly and not scary or intimidating to start.