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In the last section, we discussed helping students deal with prejudice in bullying by looking for ‘golden nuggets’ of truth in the bully’s statement.
In this section... we will discuss helping students deal with verbal bullying by expressing feelings in a calm and constructive manner.
As you know, the techniques we have discussed so far in this course can be highly effective in helping students deal with bullying. However, as you have experienced, these techniques can be difficult for students to use at times in which they feel particularly stressed, hurt, or upset. Remember Mike from the last section? Mike stated, "I understand that the Golden Nuggets technique can help me deal with Kyle, but sometimes when he uses racial slurs to try to hurt me, I get really upset! I don’t know if I can handle trying to calmly ask him all of those question when I’m so mad!"
I stated to Mike, "Sometimes, it is better not to try to implement a technique like the Golden Nugget technique if you are not sure you feel up to it. When you are really upset, it can be best to just express your feelings in a constructive manner."
Mike stated, "Yeah, but if I let Kyle know that he’s really getting to me, won’t he just keep on trying to make me feel worse?"
♦ Choose Your Words Carefully
1. In the first example, I stated, "You shouldn’t talk that way! You make me sick! You wouldn’t like it if somebody called you names like that!"
2. In the second example, I stated, "I don’t like it when white people use the N-word. I’m really proud of my people, and it hurts when someone doesn’t like me because of my race. I wonder if anyone has ever said anything about you or your family that you didn’t like."
Mike stated, "I can really see the difference there. In the second example, you used ‘I’ all the time. That sounds a lot less confrontational."
I stated, "That’s exactly right. By making ‘I’ statements, you are simply stating your opinion. Kyle probably couldn’t interpret those statements as criticism or insults. A lot of times, people get into the habit of using the words ‘should’ and ‘you’ when they are trying to express their feelings. But as you noticed in the first example, by using the words ‘should’ and ‘you’, these people are actually being critical, rather than expressing their feelings."
♦ Technique: Expressing Feelings
I encouraged Jill to use the Expressing Feelings technique with her sister. I stated, "The next time Tasha acts in this way, you might try honestly saying, ‘I’m really jealous. Sometimes I think Aunt Nancy likes you more than she does me, and it hurts."
In our next session, Jill stated, "I tried out expressing my feelings like you said. It actually went really well. Tasha told me that she’s been jealous that our Mom has been spending more time with me lately. I guess I have been bragging about it a bit. Tasha and I ended up having a pretty good talk about it."
♦ Humor and Exaggeration
I invited Danny to try role playing a situation in which he could use humor along with the Expressing Feelings technique.
Think of your Danny. Would using humor and exaggeration with the Expressing Feelings technique be helpful to him or her? Or would a more traditional use of the Expressing Feelings technique be more applicable in his or her situation?
In this section... we have discussed helping students deal with verbal bullying by expressing feelings in a calm and constructive manner.
In the next section... we will discuss three additional techniques for helping students deal with verbal bullying. These three techniques are feeding back, understanding, and name that feeling.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Duggins, S. D., Kuperminc, G. P., Henrich, C. C., Smalls-Glover, C., & Perilla, J. L. (2016). Aggression among adolescent victims of school bullying: Protective roles of family and school connectedness. Psychology of Violence, 6(2), 205–212.
Lindstrom Johnson, S., Waasdorp, T. E., Gaias, L. M., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2019). Parental responses to bullying: Understanding the role of school policies and practices. Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(3), 475–487.
Low, S., & Espelage, D. (2013). Differentiating cyber bullying perpetration from non-physical bullying: Commonalities across race, individual, and family predictors. Psychology of Violence, 3(1), 39–52.