Parents and school personnel are girls’ primary refuge from bullying. Help them regain self-esteem after being bullied through positive dialogue, constructive activities and skill building to insulate them from future attacks.
• Tell her you have noticed changes in her behavior and express concern. Even if she is not ready to talk, you have still given the message that you care. Repeat the message regularly.
• Give her positive messages about her worth, gifts and talents. Keep repeating these. Young minds rely on repetition for information to become ingrained.
• When she talks about her experiences, listen and be supportive. It is not her fault she was bullied.
• Teach her she can take control of her situation, and you will help her learn these things.
• Teach her to label the incidents as bullying. Giving things names empowers her to take steps to defeat them.
• Teach girls that bullies quickly tire of taunting people who do not react. Help girls rehearse ways to ignore negative behaviors and actions, avoid risky situations, stay safe and walk away from people with nothing positive to say. These skills help girls remove themselves as targets for bullies.
• Girls do not have to tolerate bullying behavior or indifference from school personnel. Teach them to report bullying and insist on safe zones at school. As they develop control over situations and learn ways to escape if bullying occurs, girls regain their power and self-esteem.
• Encourage participation in courage-building activities like wall climbing, ropes courses or other skills-based programs.
• Girls often meet new friends and regain a sense of self-worth through volunteering with animals or younger children. Giving back to the community is an excellent way for her to feel good about herself.
• Encourage participation with peer groups away from school. Any interaction with friends who do not bully is a success.
• Teach girls to carry themselves with confidence and to behave civilly even in the face of bullying. Give them values to last a lifetime, including the ability to mentor and help others.
• Help girls learn to manage negative emotions appropriately and model these behaviors yourself.
• Give girls outlets for physical energy that also help build their sense of capability. Kickboxing, martial arts, and self-defense classes are excellent ways to do this.
• Help her find ways to express her creativity as well, through art, or music, dance for instance.
• Get girls involved in activities that teach leadership skills. This helps develop confidence and positive attributes that are hard for bullies to challenge.
In short, teach girls that while they may not be able to control others’ behavior, they can control their behavior and reactions. As they learn they are not trapped and powerless; their self-esteem will gradually return.