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Jon Carmichael, age 13, hung himself...
In this section, we will discuss 'Turning Insults into Compliments' for helping students cope with bullies.
Jeremy, age 14, was frequently bullied during recess by another boy, Vick, age 15. Jeremy stated, "It’s not like he pushes me around or anything. But he’s always got something mean to say. He calls me ‘shrimp’ and ‘stick’ a lot. Yesterday he said, ‘It’s awful windy today, stick-boy. Be careful you don’t blow away!’ It really hurts. I don’t like going out for recess any more, because Vick is always there, and he’s always got something mean to say."
♦ 5 Techniques: Turning Insults into Compliments
♦ 1. Saying, "Thank You"
Jeremy stated, "Ok… well, one time Vick said ‘Hey Jeremy, you have huge braces!’"
♦ 2. "Speaking Things as you Want Them."
♦ 3. Compliments
I have found that there are two additional uses of the Turning Insults into Compliments technique that can help students dealing with bullies. The first of these is using the Turning Insults into Compliments technique against nonverbal meanness.
♦ 4. Against nonverbal meanness
I suggested to Becky that she might try turning Mark’s nonverbal bullying into a compliment. I stated, "The next time Mark pokes you, you might try saying something like, ‘Gee, Mark, you must really like me if you can’t keep your hands off of me. I must be irresistible!’ This puts you into a no-lose position. If Mark keeps poking you, he’s admitting to everyone that you really are irresistible. If he leaves you alone, then you’ve succeeded in your goal!"
♦ 5. ‘Reverser’
I stated, "Keep asking Mark to burp over and over again. Eventually, he’ll be the one who wants it to stop."
I also suggested Reversers to Jeremy, since they can be effective in dealing with verbal insults as well. I stated, "You can use a reverser when Vick says something mean, by saying ‘That was a great insult, Vick. You’re really sharp. I want to hear what else you can come up with.’"
Think of your Jeremy or your Becky. Would using the Turning Insults into Compliments help him or her deal with their bully?
In this section, we have discussed ‘Turning Insults into Compliments’ for helping students cope with bullies.
In the next section... we will discuss five advanced techniques that students can use to deal with verbal bullying. These five techniques are Tone Twisters, Disconnected Comments, Playing the Game, Blocks, and Pushes.
- Cohen-Posey, K., MS LMHC LMFT. (1995). How to Handle Bullies, Teasers, and Other Meanies. Rainbow Books, Inc: Highland City, Florida.
- Migliaccio, T., & Raskauskas, J. (Apr 2013). Small-Scale Bullying Prevention Discussion Video for Classrooms: A Preliminary Evaluation. Children & Schools, 35(2), 71-81.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Bradshaw, C. P. (2015). Translating research to practice in bullying prevention. American Psychologist, 70(4), 322–332.
Espelage, D. L. (2016). Leveraging school-based research to inform bullying prevention and policy. American Psychologist, 71(8), 768–775.
Farrell, A. H., & Dane, A. V. (2020). Bullying, victimization, and prosocial resource control strategies: Differential relations with dominance and alliance formation. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 14(3), 270–283.
Fink, E., Patalay, P., Sharpe, H., & Wolpert, M. (2018). Child- and school-level predictors of children’s bullying behavior: A multilevel analysis in 648 primary schools. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(1), 17–26.Gini, G., Thornberg, R., & Pozzoli, T. (2020). Individual moral disengagement and bystander behavior in bullying: The role of moral distress and collective moral disengagement. Psychology of Violence, 10(1), 38–47.
Olweus, D., & Limber, S. P. (2010). Bullying in school: Evaluation and dissemination of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(1), 124–134.