5 Steps to Prevent and Stop Bullying: Teach Your Kid to Stand Up for Themselves with Parenting Coach Tanya Fakhoury

5 Steps to Prevent and Stop Bullying: Teach Your Kid to Stand Up for Themselves with Parenting Coach Tanya Fakhoury

By Nohad

Expert Advice|Little Kid|Parenting|Teens

By Nohad Mouawad

This week of November is global anti-bullying week, so I spoke to Dubai and Beirut-based parenting coach and expert Tanya Fakhoury about how parents can teach their kids to stop bullying in its tracks. Tanya has written an e-book on how to stop bullying and conducts anti-bullying workshops at schools.

Why is the topic of bullying important? Why do we even need an anti-bullying campaign?

“We are hearing more and more about bullying these days, but the topic of bullying has been misunderstood. Not every time a child is rude or mean does this constitute bullying! When we call all rude or mean behavior bullying, then we tell our kids that they can’t handle social interactions. We also trivialize real bullying, which is done on purpose and repeated over time. Our kids are not weak, but they can be harmed psychologically by bullying, and they need the tools to deal with bullying behavior. The skills to deal with bullying are the same ones they need as adults in the workplace and in all their future relationships, so that’s why it’s very important to establish these when they are still quite young.”

Is bullying increasing in schools?

“Bullying as a behavior has always existed, but parents and teachers in the past didn’t do anything to support kids, because they thought of it as ‘kids just being kids.’ Now we are much more aware that this kind of behavior and interaction impacts children’s mental health.”

So what can we do to help our kids?

“The First Step is to teach kids what bullying really is (intentional, repetitive targeting of another child and an attempt to gain power or control) and the Second Step is to teach them, through role play and at-home training, the skills to stand up to a bully by using effective, but respectful comeback lines. For example, telling a bully to firmly ‘back off.’ These comeback lines need to be reinforced through the Third Step, which is using the right body language: standing tall, using eye contact and a firm voice, among other techniques. The Fourth Step is to walk away calmly and ignore what the bully is saying. Finally, as a Fifth Step, teach your child to speak positively to themselves, replacing what the bully says with positive words, such as changing “I don’t like you” in their mind to “I like myself.” Our kids are not weak, and when they have the tools to answer back, they increase their confidence and self-esteem, and they learn what it means to set boundaries with others.”

Isn’t bullying more of a problem with older kids?

“No. It begins when kids are little. It starts with: ‘I don’t want you to be my friend, I don’t want you to be in my group,’ and it evolves as they get older into different forms, such as cyber bullying. The skills that children need to deal with bullying have to be learned in elementary or primary school, because those skills are what give them confidence and resilience. If they haven’t built that by the pre-teen or teen years, then it’s more difficult for them to face the problems that come up at that age.”

Why should kids defend themselves? Shouldn’t they just tell an adult?

“Under the age of 6, they can definitely tell an adult when another kid misbehaves, but over the age of 6, kids will be seen as ‘snitches,’ and this can create more problems for them. Our aim with this 5-step approach to bullying is to prevent one kid’s bad behavior from turning into repetitive bullying and a bigger problem. When the so-called victim stands up for themselves, they can stop the bully from targeting them and increase their confidence. Of course, if the behavior doesn’t stop, then telling the teacher or the school is important, but we don’t want it to reach that point. When I first taught these tips to my son and he practiced them, he felt so much more comfortable in his skin, especially after changing countries and schools. That’s why I wrote the e-book to help other families.”

Does social media make kids more vulnerable to bullying?

“Yes, it definitely does, especially when they’re connected all the time through gaming, TikToks, apps and so many devices. The biggest problem is that, if their self-esteem isn’t high, then they won’t have the tools to deal with cyber bullying.”

What can parents do to help pre-teens and teens defend themselves against cyber bullying?

“We need to look at the teens’ whole situation and not just the bullying or social media activity itself. How are their friendships? How are their grades? Are they involved in after school activities or sports? These are important elements in forming their character and building a well of confidence that they can draw from when faced with cyber bullying or negative messaging on social media. As a parent, you can establish rules that limit their use of social media and devices, but if they don’t have the confidence and skills to handle the bullying, then it won’t be enough.”

How can we know what our kids are even doing online?

“First of all, if you give your child any kind of device like a phone or tablet, you must know their password and have access to their apps and can see their activity and what they’re posting on their accounts. This, though, should be part of the relationship and connection between you and your child, because as a parent you should supervise what they do, but at the same time they need to be willing to share with you what happens with them on and offline. Additionally, you need to explain certain ‘golden rules’ of social media, such as, whatever you post online stays there forever.”


This Anti-bullying Week across Dubai and the UAE, talk to your kids about what bullying means and download Tanya Fahkoury’s free e-book for more information about how to help them stand up for themselves at school.

Free e-book: https://www.tanyathechange.com/pl/2147591646


Photo credits:

<a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/angry-displeased-distressed-hateful-blond-little-girl-child-staring-furious-upset-complaining-grimacing-bothered-intense-fight-look-pissed-gesturing-clench-fist-stand-white-wall_18040533.htm#query=kids%20school%20fight&position=2&from_view=search&track=sph”>Image by cookie_studio</a> on Freepik

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<a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/group-diverse-people-using-their-phones_13463478.htm#query=social%20media%20teen&position=0&from_view=search&track=sph”>Image by rawpixel.com</a> on Freepik


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