Bullying: 5 Mean-Kid Tactics Parents Should Spot

Adolescence, especially early adolescence, is a tough time for kids in general. As a kid, you’re just trying to figure out who you are. Your bodies are changing; your voices are changing; your lives are changing. Because of all these changes, you’re not sure of yourself. When kids aren’t sure of themselves, they feel vulnerable. Being vulnerable makes you more fearful of the attack of others. Some kids decide the best defense is a good offense—the way not to get attacked by others is to make sure they attack first. They get mean.

Both boys and girls can be mean. Boys are more likely to use physical violence or the threat of violence to achieve their goals, while girls use their words and relationships. Perhaps mean kids act this way because they feel so powerless about their own lives. Maybe they don’t like themselves very much and are afraid others won’t like them, too. But, whatever the reason, bullies are attempting to control others. Mean kids feel better about themselves when they have control over other people.

Control Moves

Kids, especially preteen or early teenage kids, feel unsafe just being who they are. Even the so-called popular kids feel embarrassed and ashamed about looks or athletic prowess, how smart they are, or whether or not they have the right clothes, phone, car, etc. Adolescence is a time when so much is changing about who you are, how you feel about yourself, and how you look, that teens turn to each other for security. Sometimes, security means being part of a group you don’t really like, just so you’re not picked on.

5 Mean-Kid Tactics

Point out in others the things they fear in themselves If bullies worry that they aren’t attractive or strong enough, they spend time talking about how ugly, poorly dressed, weak, fat, or whatever other kids are. That way, if people are going to talk about someone not being good enough, the talk won’t be about them.
Are afraid they won’t stay popular Mean kids are afraid of finding themselves the unpopular kids that everyone else jokes about or turns their backs on. So to prevent that from happening, they make the jokes and turn their backs on others.
Use words to attack others Mean girls (especially) use words and what they know about another person; they gossip, make-up stories, or reveal secrets—all designed to hurt the other person. Sometimes mean girls physically fight another girl but not usually. Mean boys are more likely to get physical, but they, too, usually begin with a verbal confrontation.
Will sometimes use other girls or boys to hurt another person, instead of doing it themselves Sometimes just the herd mentality of having a bunch of supposed friends on their side is enough pressure to intimidate others. But often, bullies will exert their power over their own group by manipulating others to do their dirty work, staying in the background like a puppet master, pulling other people’s strings. If asked directly about what they are doing, these kids will lie and pretend they don’t know anything about it, especially to adults.
Withhold friendship as a way to punish other kids and force them to do what they want Though both boys and girls do this, girls will sometimes take it a step further. Mean girls can pretend to be a friend, only to find out someone’s deepest secrets; then they turn around and hurt them by telling the secrets and laughing about them with other people.

Thankfully, there aren’t many mean kids around, but if you asked at any middle school who the bullies are, you would find out about at least one. It’s important to remember that the power a mean kid might have over you is only the power you give him or her. If you know who you are and like yourself, a bully doesn’t have much power over you. They can still say and do things that hurt, but they can’t truly make you feel bad about yourself.

You are in charge of how you feel about you, so refuse to allow mean kids to tell you what to do or think about yourself. Refuse to give them the power and eventually they’ll leave you alone.

  • Who are the bullies at your school and why do you think they are so mean?
  • Now that you know what bullies do, watch out that you don’t act like them.
  • Why do you think most adult men and women don’t continue to act like bullies after middle school and high school?

Write your response.

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