Back to articles Are you Bully Savvy?

Categories: Parenting

Durham Region's Youth Motivator, Monique Howat, provides parents with the tips they need to stop their kids from being bullied.

Bullies inflict pain. It affects everyone from the parents of both children to friends, teachers, community and the unlucky child who is bullied. When a child is being bullied parents go through many emotions from desperate to helpless, overwhelmed, angry and even panic. What parents want is an answer to the question, “What should I do?”


In looking at the issue of bullies, we need to empower ourselves with knowledge and strategies that will help prevent it in the first place. How can you empower your child and yourselves?  Make smart, preventative and simple moves before it happens to your child.


Understand the Bully:

  • They are often angry frustrated children who are taking it out on other kids in the form of being mean and bullying.
  • They are usually gutless when separated from their peers.
  • Their M.O. (method of operation) is to group together and convince others in the group to pick on someone.


What can you do?

Start with asking your kids good questions:

  • Who are the bullies in their grade? You may begin to hear their names over and over in general conversations with your child. Stay alert to who they are. Knowledge is power.

  • Ask your child how they would deal with a bully? This will give you an idea of how bully savvy your child is and what steps you need to take to further empower them.

  • Explain to your child that they need to stay nice and that bullying usually has very little to do with the specific value of a child as a person but more to do with a bully thinking that the child might be an easy target because the bully mistakenly thinks they wont react.


10 Strategies to Insulate your Kids Against Bullies


  1. Create safe havens in your neighbourhood (Your home, safe store, friends’ homes) which help act as insulators against bullies. Kids feel far more secure knowing that there is more than one safe haven in their neighbourhood.

  2. Tell your kids to stick with friends as much as possible. If someone offers to walk them home, take the offer.

  3. Practice the Confident Girls and Guys “bully yell.” Simply put, tell your children that it is using their loudest voice against a bully.  The fact is that all kids can be loud, making this strategy an easy one. Kids need to learn to yell the bullies name if they know it (most usually do) and the offensive behaviour in their loudest voice to attract attention. Example: “Jason, don’t hit me!” This will tell everyone within ear shot who the culprit is and exactly what they have just done. Bullies don’t want to be caught so using the bully yell directs all the attention immediately to the bully so there is no question later on about who was present during the offensive behaviour. Practice the “bully yell” with your kids…again it’s empowering and it reduces stress about being bullied.

  4. Help kids recognize the behaviours and motives of a bully. Sometimes it will help to call the bully on the phone and tell them how painful it is to be picked on. Use your best judgment with this one.

  5. Have your child teach a sibling what you’ve taught them! It’s all about empowering everyone in the family and this way you’ll know if your kids were really listening when you taught them what you think they should know!

  6. Parents can empower children by being assertive. Call the bullies' parents but don’t be threatening…be involved. Speak with your child's teachers to make sure there's a class attitude that bullying will not be tolerated.

  7. Talk to teachers and tell them that if one child is getting bullied, it needs to be everybody's business. Suggest they instil a value system in the classroom and on the playground that someone who sits silently and watches a bully is as guilty as the bully himself. Recommend a spirit of inclusion — and enforce it. Propose the teacher holds workshops in their classes or hire someone from the community to teach everyone the latest techniques and see the newest video’s on the market.

  8. Use stress and worry busters like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises. I am currently collaborating with White Swan Mediation Group on a meditation/relaxation CD for kids under 11. It will be on sale by June. Contact me for more details.

  9. Outdoor camps (such as outward bound) are a super summer option to help your child feel empowered.

  10. In severe cases personal alarms could be used.


Now that your family is bully savvy, you’ll all feel safer and confident! Good luck everybody! 



Monique Howat is a dedicated mom of three daughters. She inspires and motivates youth and adults with over 100 presentations a year, is an author and creator of Confident Girls and Guys.  Monique has been on Canada AM, Rogers TV, Chex TV, Jill Hewlett Show, CBC radio, CKDO 107.7, and in print through The Toronto Star, Durham Business, Oshawa, Ajax, Clarington, Bowmanville This Week, The Standard, Port Perry Star and Business- of- the- month Canada. Monique is also a frequent contributor to e-zines, books, magazines and podcasts. To find out more about Confident Girls and Guys and Monique's next workshop, visit , e-mail: or call 905 986-1441.  


Monique’s work with youth has been recognized by: MPP John O’Toole, MP Dianne Cunningham Former Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Directors of Education, Whitby’s Mayor and community leaders. Monique dedicates her time and talents as the Women’s Director on the Durham Region Local Training Board and the Whitby Youth Council.