Lesson 469 – Protecting the youngest members of our flock against bullying

There are those who might take offense to the following post. Not going to apologize for anything.

In our town we had a recent tragedy in which a young life was lost. Due to the child’s age, details have not been released but there are rumors that bullying may have played a part.

I’m tired of some of these passive anti-bullying campaigns that sound good (Why don’t we all just try and get along?) but which are proving to be completely ineffective. Like the dads in the 1950’s who brought boxing gloves home for their sons in order to teach them how to punch the bully, I’ve decided to teach my youngest kids how to fight back.

I am one angry mom.

Last night I sat down with my two young daughters – baby chicks that they are – (ages 13 and 12 – my sons are older and have the tools and experience to not need this lesson) and we had ourselves a talk.

“Remember when you were little and we taught you that if a strange man grabbed you, you were supposed to yell at the top of your lungs “HE’S NOT MY DADDY!!!”?, I started our conversation.

Both of them remembered the lessons, they even remembered that we role-played different scenarios to make sure they felt comfortable saying something like that out loud. We did it to protect our kids. We did it because no one, no where had the right to hurt my children and it was one of the tools we wanted to teach our kids so that they could protect themselves.

“Well, no one has the right to say or do anything that makes you or anyone else feel bad,” I continued. “In the future, if someone says something to you in order to bully you, or if you hear someone say something to someone else specifically to make them feel bad, I want you to let that bully know that his behavior makes you angry. Very angry. I want you to look that person right in the eye and at the top of your lungs I want you to shout –


A few things will happen as a result:

Bullies are a bit on the dumb side, they are not going to know what a miscreant is. When they get that confused look in their face, wipe your hands of them, and walk away. You’ve just won, you’re way smarter than they are.

Also, if you yell this at the top of your lungs, there is not a teacher or adult within 100 feet who is not going to notice and come over to see what is going on. Forget waiting until recess is over to tell a teacher that someone has bullied you, you go ahead and get their attention exactly when it happens. Trust me, this little gem of a phrase is going to get an adult to notice.

We talked about what bullying is and what bullying isn’t. My daughters who know that I don’t believe in any sort of censorship but who also know a “bad word” when they hear one both looked at me with big eyes. “Do you really want us to say that?” They asked.

Sure do, and as loudly and with all the anger you can muster.

Then we role-played a few instances where it would be appropriate to say such a thing.

“Addy, you’re a jerk, you’re fat, and ugly, and you shouldn’t be at this dance.”


And then Addy walked away.

“Emma, why do you hang around Billy? He’s nothing but a little fag and a queer.”


And then Emma walked away with imaginary Billy (she even held his imaginary hand.)

“Mom,” said Emma, my youngest, a look of worry on her face, “if I say that word at school, I’ll be sent to the principal’s office.”

“That’s okay,” was my response, “you know my cell phone number, you just give it to the principal and let her know that I would be more than happy to talk with her about this. Grownups think kids shouldn’t say words like this. Your mom thinks that kids shouldn’t bully you and if they do that gives you the right to fight back and even say the ““F” word.”. In this instance, your mom trumps other grownups.”

Because no one, no where has the right to bully and hurt my children or anyone elses’ kids and this is one of the tools I want my kids to know so that they can continue to protect themselves against others outside of our flock who might want to cause them harm.

This is what needs to be protected.


Filed under Inspiration, Life Lessons, New Hampshire, Personal, Points to ponder

96 responses to “Lesson 469 – Protecting the youngest members of our flock against bullying

  1. Wendy, while I applaud your advice to say something loud and attention getting, as the mother of a 5 yr old, I feel uncomfortable teaching my daughter to say the ‘F’ word. Perhaps, when she is older it might be appropriate but, we as a family don’t curse. I too have taught my child to scream, “This is not my daddy” or “This is not my mommy” in a bad situation and will think of something to teach my daughter to scream something like, “You are a mean bully, you miscreant” very loudly. I love your viewpoints and feel that we need to teach our young children how to deal with a bully just like we teach them about stranger danger. If you have any suggestions on wording to teach a 5 yr old, I’m all ears. Keep up the good parenting.

    • Wendy Thomas


      Your point is well taken and while I don’t agree with any kind of censorship, I do believe in using words responsibly. For the most part (we all have our slip-ups) we don’t use this type of language in our house. I’ve taught my kids that it’s very powerful and it loses its effectiveness if it’s overused.

      My kids are older and I feel this phrase is effective *for them*, if they were younger, I’m actually on your side – I wouldn’t be teaching them this particular phrase. The beauty of this phrase is that it confuses the bully and it gets an adult’s attention. So we’d have to come up with a more age appropriate phrase for the younger crew that also gets an adults attention, perhaps:

      YOU HURT ME, YOU MISCREANT. or DON’T HURT ME, YOU MISCREANT (and you’re going to have to practice the pronunciation of “miscreant” it doesn’t really roll off the tongue.) Note: in that last one, the emphasis is on *me* as in an outraged Don’t you even dare think about hurting *me* – don’t practice it as a whining “please don’t hurt me.” empower the child to be angry and let the bully know that they are angry.

      Those statements (with the words “HURT ME”) will usually get attention from teachers especially in a school setting.

      I think the points are: 1. Be prepared so that if you are bullied, you have a tool in your back pocket. 2. Let the bully know that you are angry – so loudly yell whatever phrase you decide upon 3. Walk away after you’ve yelled the phrase 4. Get the attention of an adult. (hopefully the yelling will have taken care of that point)


      • Rachel Mary Bean

        This is great advice. I have four kids, the oldest is a seven-year-old girl. My sister-in-law and I were just talking about how hard this is to deal with. At what point do you just tell your kid, some people just suck. They’re always told people are good and to give everyone a chance, but seriously, some people just suck! This is a good way to deal with this, (with the toned-down language for smaller kids, but I would use that phrase verbatim for older ones.) Thanks!

  2. Im assuming we live in the same town that starts with a M 🙂 I was very heartbroken after hearing the news and told my kids something along the same lines when it came to bullying..Its uncalled for! Well said

    • Wendy Thomas


      Yup, same town. Such a loss.

      Kids need to know that they have the right to fight back. And as a writer, I know of no better way than to use effective and powerful words.


  3. Julie

    Elizabeth I think your right on with your 5 year old but like Wendy Im a mother or 6 and the youngest being 3 14 year olds so I think the intent behind using that word is to really draw the attention of a teacher – yelling your a bully wont work because for some it will become a joke- and kids in middle school in the halls are loud and always joking- so this should be very effective!

    • Wendy Thomas


      Exactly, (I’ve already replied to Elizabeth) the point is not to arbitrarily curse. The point is to use powerful, attention getting language *when* necessary.

      As an add-on I’ve also reminded my kids about the boy who cried wolf. This is not the type of phrase to use if someone says that they don’t like the color of your sweater, this is considered a big gun to pull out when the situation calls for it.


  4. Wonderful juxtaposition of that old profane word and “miscreant”. It will be miscreant that will make the listener pause because while they all know the “F-word”, I wonder how many know what a miscreant is? The F-word is now part of mainstream culture and conversation, as unfortunate as that is. Fifty years ago as a plump and early developing 10-year old I was bullied by the kids in my car pool. They found it amusing to change my name to “Fatrrari”. I still remember the pain after all this time. The leader was a girl (very thin) who I learned many years later was the oldest of six kids whose father was a drunk, often out of work who beat her mother. I still feel the pain but at least I “get” it. The horror that happened in the next town is beyond imagination. Stopping bullying starts with the parents. They should all be required to read The Lord of the Flies. ANY child can be pulled into this and it is important that parents are aware of this. And STOP IT. A brave and thoughtful blog. I commend you.

    • Wendy Thomas


      Thanks for your comment. I know that some words are becoming mainstream but I also know that if a young girl (or boy for that matter) yelled this phrase at school, it would surely get an adult’s attention. I absolutely agree that stopping bullying starts with the parents. But as we all know, some parents parent differently from others.

      We also need to arm our kids with tools to fight back (and as a writer, I can think of no better weapon than a series of powerful words flung at your opponent.)


  5. Stephan

    I also live in M:-) and I was shocked to hear the news. As a good Christian I’d avoid using foul language but in agreement with Wendy on “using it responsibly” but not to the extent indicated as this will lead into .. well, more discussion on this …which is not the point. The point is dealing with bullying.
    M kids took Martial Arts and there they teach an effective an non-violent way on handling this. But I love the choice of Wendy’s exquisite words, and this perhaps is a throw off or sort of deterrent for subsequent actions as it will get the person who is bullying thinking more about the words than taking any action.
    I also think this messaging about bullying should come from all sources: School Principals, Teachers in classroom, Police events, Library fucntions and, more importantly, at Home!

    • Wendy Thomas


      I’m not necessarily advocating the use of cursing. Although I don’t censor it, I have taught my children that curses are very powerful and strong language and should be only used occasionally otherwise they lose their effectiveness.

      The point is to raise your voice when it happens and to throw the bully off center – the word miscreant guarantees that. When my older son called a bully a miscreant (he was in elementary school so didn’t use the first half of this phrase) the bully looked at him, started stuttering, and said, “um, I am not that thing you said.”

      It diffused the situation and empowered my son enough to walk away knowing that he was smarter than the bully.


  6. Peg

    I think that in addition to teaching our children, we also need to expect more of our school administrators. I can think of two instances that burned me. First, in middle school, one of the popular “jocks” was taunting one of the “geek” girls. A boy she is friendly with stood up for her, and then started getting taunted himself. This kid finally smacked the bully in the face. Puncher got suspended. Bully got slap on the hand.
    Another instance, in high school, after bullying behavior, both girls were brought into the counselor’s office, and bully was told to apologize. Counselor was satisfied that she’d done her job. Bully continued to harass other students, but just became slyer about it.
    I believe that in case #1, school didn’t want star basketball player to miss a game, and in case #2, counselor was more interested in making a connection with a troubled child, than giving attention to the victim.

    • Wendy Thomas


      I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the school administration. We had a situation where one of my sons was constantly injured by a bully (hit with a belt, spit on, had his thumb pulled back and sprained, had a chair pulled out when he went to sit down, had batteries shoved into his mouth – yeah psycho stuff). I went to the school over and over with little to no results.

      The first day of the next school year, at recess the bully physically harmed my son again.

      I went to the police. If the school wasn’t going to protect my son, I was. He had a right to be safe at school.

      To our town’s police department (I’ve had a few meetings with them over the years and can I say that I love them?) they not only took me seriously but they went to talk to the school and to the kid’s parents.

      The school said I over-reacted but all of a sudden started paying attention to the situation. The bully stopped (under threat of a legal action being initiated) and my son was safe at school again.

      It takes a village to protect kids at school and when necessary, that might include the police.


  7. Dee

    I had a very bad experience with our school principal regarding bullying. A very violent “special needs” child was harassing children during recess. He would come up to the area where kids were playing and scream at them to get away this was his spot to play in, and yell very frightening intimidating things. He bit kids and was a terror at recess. Numerous complaints from the kids to the teachers went unheeded. They were admonished to be understanding because of the child’s issues. These kids were in 2nd or 3rd grade! Unbeknownst to me, my son and two other friends were fed up with being bullied so they stuck together (safety in numbers). Whenever the child walked close enough to harass them, they eyed him with a warning look and all together said “Hi (and the childs name). This infuriated the child who complained to his parents. The parents flew into a rage (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) and threatened the school with a law suit. The kids were hauled in front of the principal’s office and threatened with punishment. Those who know my son, know what a gentle soul he is. He was mortified. He wrote a letter of apology to the boy and vowed he would be nicer. I spoke to the principal about the behavior of the other child and how he needed to be monitored better as to not terrify the other kids and although he acknowledged the boy had serious issues he made no promises. A couple of days later my son saw the boy in the hallway and in an effort to mend fences offered him a friendly hello. (My son was too young to understand that many special needs kids don’t get normal human behavior) The “special needs” child again flew into a rage-parents were called and guess what…my son was forced to go through “sensitivity training”. The most gentle, sensitive young man on the planet was viewed by the twisted school system as a bully! He was confused and scared. The trauma this left in him was awful. He had nightmares for six months and developed symptoms of OCD. He was so confused as to what was right and what was wrong. He walked down the hallway with his head down in fear of this child showing up and terrorizing him again. I fought valiantly for my son and spent a great deal of time at the principals office trying to get him to understand how bizarre their logic was in this- but short of pulling him out and homeschooling him I had zero resources. Looking back I wish I had threatened with my own lawsuit! A few years later the school tried to put my son in a class with that boy. I wrote a letter to the principal stating in no uncertain terms that this would not be allowed. If they did not change my sons class I would pull him from school and homeschool. Period-there would be zero negotiation and I would take this as far up the ladder as I needed to including a lawsuit. The new principal understood and took care of it. I later found out from a different administrator that 10 children who had been assigned to that boys classroom demanded to have their children placed in a separate class from him. All of them were changed. While I am grateful for this, what happen to my son was outrageous and never should have happened! Our school system panders to the bully-who’s parents are often bullies themselves and use threats and manipulations to coerce the school system into allowing their behavior. In effect, the bully is rewarded and the victim is punished! So yes-while I may not have my child use the same language, I have taught them that we will fight back, hard! We will use every resource available, we will band together and we will make sure that no child ever has to suffer again!

    • Dee,

      I thought I had responded to this yesterday but I see that it didn’t go through. I’m sorry about what happened to your son and I think you raise a good point, with everyone so sue-happy these days, it does sometimes seem like the bad guys get the breaks.

      But, to use another cliche, the squeaky wheel does get the grease. Go back, go back, go back again. Stand up (which you did, good for you) and don’t give up.

      Your child will notice what you’re doing for him.


  8. Jenn

    I was also bullied as a child and my children were bullied as well. It is NEVER ok and both schools and parents must be held accountable. We must protect our children (and by “our” I mean ALL children) from bullying. If only this tragedy could have been prevented…

    • Wendy Thomas


      Absolutely agree. No one has the right to hurt you physically or emotionally. I’ve heard so many stories of kids reporting to a teacher that they’ve been bullied and the teacher either not taking it seriously (you’re just a tattle-tale) or completely dismissing it.

      It’s time for our kids to learn it’s okay to be ANGRY about this, its not fair and it’s not right. And our kids have the right to say verbally fight back. (note – I am not advocating physical contact of any sort, I’m letting my kids know that they can fight back using strong and effective language.)


      • I agree completely that kids need to learn that it’s ok to be angry about some things. I think kids — girls especially — are taught that it’s not ok to be angry or lose your temper under *any* circumstances, which is just wrong.

  9. Great post, Wendy. I’d suggest another F word that I grew up being told to use: FIRE!!!

    • Wendy Thomas


      I actually thought about that one but if the bullying happened in a building and someone yelled “FIRE, YOU MISCREANT” they could get into a whole lot of legal trouble.

      Your point is well taken however, yell something very loudly that immediately gets others’ attention. Perhaps (especially for the younger set, whom I admit, this language is a bit strong) a strong “SHUT UP, YOU MISCREANT” (which in our house is rarely used because it’s considered so rude) would work.


  10. I was a public school teacher for a number of years, and bullying was a frequent problem. An important concept to understand is that just as individuals have personalities, groups have personalities. A well-functioning individual is much less likely to engage in bullying. A bully is often communicating I am not very happy so I am going to make myself feel better by making someone else unhappy.

    As a teacher, I noticed that some groups (classes) were positive and functioning well and that some were unhappy and functioning poorly. The poorly functioning groups tended to pick scapegoats and bully them. My better functioning classes were much less likely to engage in bullying. In society in general, bullying manifests itself as racism, homophobia, etc.

    Self-defense classes teach people not to “act like victims.” For example, when walking to a car in a dark parking lot, walk with confidence and purpose, check the seats for someone hiding in the car, open the car efficiently, and get ready to drive expeditiously. A mugger or car jacker is more likely to pick a person who looks confused, unsure, or is just dawdling than a person moving with purpose and certainty.

    No one deserves to be a victim, but just as predators in the animal world look for “easy victims,” human predators and bullies look for easy victims and scapegoats. I agree with your “Fuck you, you miscreant” advice to your children, and would add that a child should learn what signals send the message I am an easy victim and what signals send the message I’m probably not the easiest one to take advantage of. They should also be aware of temptations to be “popular” by joining in with kids who are bullying, and be brave about standing up for kids who are being bullied.

    • Wendy Thomas


      good comments on group behavior, those are interesting observations.

      And your point is well made, my verbal response is just a part of the entire defense package. Body language, practicing, talking things out with others (parents or friends), knowing that others have your back, it’s all part of the co-ordinated response.

      There will always be bullies (a sad but true fact) but if we give our kids the tools to physically and emotionally protect themselves then like an annoying mosquito at night, chances are, eventually they will go away having been unable to do the harm they had hoped.


  11. What a great post. The pure genius of it even made me laugh out loud. I’ll have to make sure to teach this to my future kids some day. “Miscreant”…what a perfect word. lol.

    ❤ Gina Blechman

  12. diane foss

    I don’t live in Merrimack, but I do work there. I too have heard the rumors, and am still praying they are just rumors. As for your advice Wendy, I can only quote Sweeney Todd: “These are desperate times Mrs. Lovett, and desperate times call for desperate measures.”


    P.S. Don’t correct my grammar.

    • Wendy Thomas


      Perfect response (and from Johnny Depp no less). Absolutely right, these desperate times require that we change the rules a little. Nice girls and boys need to start showing others that their behavior is unacceptable and that it makes them ANGRY!!!!

      I think one of the problems is that we are so worried about the possibility of offending someone that we have completely lost track of when to justly say “Nope, you’re a jerk. Get lost”


  13. diane foss

    I don’t know if it’s the issue of offending someone. One of the biggest problems with eliminating bullying is how easy it is to miss. Some bullies are really talented at intimadating and ostracizing others in very subtle ways. Sometimes you can’t really catch them in the act. That’s why I understand your approach Wendy. Those words will definitely get an adult’s attention the moment it happens. BTW, bullying doesn’t stop in childhood either. There are plenty of adults who are great at bullying. They have had years to develop their talents because nobody stopped them when they were young.

  14. I’m really sorry to hear that a tragedy of this nature has happened.

    Fighting back with words is a great response. I’m also in favour of reporting to the police. I work in a public school and I know the limitations of what a teacher or a school can do. Go to the police and report it. It’s the way to get the attention you need – from all concerned. In many ways it makes it easier for the school to help.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Poultry Matters,

      You’re absolutely right. Sometimes getting the police involved is the right thing to do. Schools have many, many students they have to watch out for. If the student doesn’t say anything about the situation or if the teacher is overwhelmed and “just can’t deal with this right now” going to the police forces the issue.

      We had an instance where we were forced to go to the police for continued bullying where we were not getting the support we needed from the school, the police gave us nothing but respect and support. Because of their involvement, we were able to get the bullying to stop.


  15. Jenn

    RIGHT ON!!!! (If you dont mind, I’d like to borrow that!)

    • Wendy Thomas


      Borrow away, the more people who see that its is okay for our kids to get angry and to verbalize that anger the more of a chance we might be able to change things.


  16. Good idea, Wendy. It empowers your girls in a way that will help draw attention to a bad situation. I still remember how scared I was by a boy in a schoolyard. We were alone and he threatened me. It may have made me feel stronger just to know I had the parental encouragement to say words like that.

    • Wendy Thomas


      That’s exactly what I’m trying to convey here. Empowerment against those who want to cause you pain or harm. It just happens that I spoke to my two daughters but I’ve also had this talk over the years with our boys.

      The trick is to display your anger and outrage appropriately (otherwise, you run the risk of becoming a bully yourself)


  17. I don’t think it’s always that the teachers are overwhelmed or de-sensitized. I speak from experience when I say that their hands are often tied. They follow procedure. They are often juggling the concerns of many different students and parents. While in that role there are times that they can’t step outside of their professional unbiased role. Regardless of what they might be thinking they often can’t speak freely and do what they might like to do. Teachers want to help and they do what they can. It’s a system problem. Once the police are involved though, the school administration seems to view situations from a slightly different angle. It seems to make everyone in positions to change things sit up and take notice. Don’t beat up on the teachers. They do a very hard job and they’d love to stop this kind of thing. Go to the police & get the teacher the support from higher powers.

    • Wendy Thomas

      I didn’t mean to imply that I was beating up on teachers. We’ve had some fantastic teachers over the years that have come to our aid and come up with some pretty creative solutions on how to solve some problems. Our kids have had a few bumps but for the most part have had a very positive time in the public school system.

      I understand what you are saying about hands being tied though, between policy and privacy issues, sometimes it’s tough to get to the bottom of things or even move forward.

      And you’re right, once the police are involved it moves the situation into another level where teachers are now allowed to use different tactics.

      Going to the police is not always the right action to take but sometimes, when necessary, it can be very effective.


  18. Interesting posts, have read them all. My 16 year old daughter was robbed on Saturday night, by a 17 year old who emailed her all day through Craig’s List to buy her ipod. When she got out of the car to meet with him he took it and ran away. She was heartbroken, furious (at herself) and out a ton of money—that is just not going to be easily replaced–and it was to help fund her trip to Ghana to work at an orphanage this summer– which is now called off.

    Point is that even though we know this boy’s email, high school, phone number and filed a police report nothing is being done and he is getting away with it. I felt proud that I got her to sit down and fill out a police report and not feel like a victim. I have to say it’s an empty victory when I see that the police don’t even bother with teen on teen crime. Neither does the school–this is a community matter.

    Lessons learned and you are right. It is important to be as noisy as possible for as long as it takes. I would not stop with one sentence, I will instruct her to continue ranting and raving at the top of her lungs so that the perp will not turn around and go after her.

    • Wendy Thomas


      Although I do hear stories often of police not helping out, I have to say that in our town we’ve had nothing but positive experiences when we have gone to them for help (but then that’s the one of the big differences between living in a town and in a city.)

      In your case, you filled out the police report and you’re right that’s does allow for empowerment. You do what you need to do to protect yourself and let your voice be heard.


    • The thing that really makes a difference is parental support. Wendy’s active talking to her daughters and giving them permission to speak up with “bad” language is great. So was your support of your daughter in losing her iPod to the theif. Other parents (my own included) would probably just have blamed her for being stupid and losing the valuable iPod–even “letting” someone steal it. Good for you, showing her to stand up and file the report.

  19. arbie

    While I personally have no problem with the wording in the given situation, one must look at the down sides. If Mary responds as described (and I do believe it would be completely justified), her friend, Sue goes home and tells her mom/dad what happened and how Mary responded. Sue’s parents may have a problem with her associating with “Mary” and the play date invitations with many of the children in school—accepted or received—may dwindle. I would be a bit worried about my child possibly being ostracized because of the parents’ response to the language.

    • Wendy Thomas


      I see your point, however, if Sue’s parent’s objected to the way Mary, who non-violently, but effectively and responsibly reacted to someone bullying her, by restricting play dates, then I’m not sure (as the hypothetical mother of Mary) that’s the type of child or family I would want Mary to hang around anyway.

      I would want my Mary to hang around with families who understand that what was said was empowerment and not just arbitrary “bad language.” And by the way, it is just as probable that Sue’s parents upon hearing how Mary handled the bullying situation might extend a play date in the hopes that Mary would teach and be an example for their daughter Sue on how to stand up for oneself.

      The wording I chose is not intended to offend, it’s intended to be a verbal slap with the hope that it will create unbalance and break the bully’s routine. The wording is also specifically chosen to shock and show the bully that “boy, am I angry with what you are doing.” Too often kids are quiet and allow unacceptable behavior to continue, I’m teaching my kids to speak up early. While some grown-ups might turn an eye on a child who pushes another child on the playground, “kids will be kids, won’t they?”, I guarantee you that if a child YELLS this phrase (and again I’m talking about responsibly – this is not to be used lightly) out loud on a playground, a teacher or adult will be over there in minutes trying to figure out what is going on.


  20. I know personally of a child that was knocked to the ground and kicked repeatedly in the head by a bully. The victim was a girl who was three years younger than the male bully. She was an active child, but had a quiet personality. When on the ground she swore at the attacker and also tried to kick him back. She did make contact with him a couple of times. She had to be ‘rescued’ by a teacher. Later on she was questioned by the school administration about the fact that she kicked him and swore at him. This was very frustrating to me. She was so traumatised by the experience that she had to be taken home and couldn’t return for a number of days. In the end some teachers stepped in and spoke up for her and things worked out ok eventually, but she really needed people to speak up for her and vouch for her character. It’s terribly disappointing that this should be necessary. I felt very protective of her and spent many lunch times in her company while she was recovering from the experience.

  21. Speaking only from my own experience, girl-bullying is so subtle and social-based that there’s no opportunity to shout anything at anyone. It’s in the way someone looks at you, the whispers, the social ostracism, the subtle comments, the notes passed behind your back. I wish it had been as straightforward as “You’re ugly and stupid.”

    This absolutely would work for boy-style bullying. I did tell my son that he wasn’t allowed to throw the first punch — but he absolutely was allowed to throw the second punch, and if he did, he was to make sure the other kid didn’t get up for half an hour. His karate instructors showed him how to block punches, and I said, “And remember, if you block, block hard enough that the other kid’s arm goes numb up to his shoulder.”

    My son had to defend himself twice. Once at the bus stop and once in the lunch room. He was never *physically* attacked again…but then the bullies switched to social-type exclusion bullying, and that’s a harder hydra to fight. 😦

    I will teach my children to react explosively when the situation calls for it. I’m more worried about the times when there’s no apparent way to react.

    • Wendy Thomas


      You raise a valid point. This approach is obviously for the overt bullying. The subtle bullying that often occurs with girls is something that takes constant vigilance. Last summer we noticed some behavior creeping into our house that was new. Rude comments, snotty actions, little bumps when walking near each other (this was between our two girls.)

      We tried a few things: We talked to the girls – no results. We threatened the girls – (no movies with your friends) – no results

      Finally, we traced the behavior back to two specific things, a few friends and TV. The girls were no longer allowed to go to those particular friends’ houses anymore and we stopped cable (except for internet).

      TV plays a HUGE part in our kids’ culture and some of the shows (teen shows in particular) teach things we don’t want our children to learn. (and bear in mind that we are a VERY LIBERAL household, who doesn’t believe in censorship but does believe in using language and actions responsibly)

      After a week or two of hearing that we were the worst parents on the face of the earth, the behavior stopped.

      It really does begin at home but man, does it take a lot of constant work.


      • This is so true! We canceled our cable too — living with 7 TV channels didn’t kill me, it won’t kill them! — and yesterday at the doctor’s office I was reminded of why it was a really good choice. Some of the dialogue was really age INappropriate. We’re the meanest ever but we prefer to limit the amount of overt nastiness (usually in the name of teen “comedy”) that our kids are subjected to daily.

      • Wendy Thomas

        We are a much happier family without TV.

        Oh and did I also tell you that I’m a mean mom because I won’t let my daughters hang out at the mall? 🙂


    • Oh the girl-bullying. It really is incredibly subtle sometimes. It was only as an adult that I realized that what I’d faced in 5th and 6th grade (a new school) had been bullying. If kids don’t recognize a pattern of behavior as bullying, they can’t bring it to a parent’s or teacher’s attention. It shattered my self-confidence. I’d even blamed myself as weak, because I couldn’t understand why it bothered me, why it left such wounds. There was nothing I could pick out as “that thing there was bullying”. The couple odd times that something overt did happen, my mom jumped on it.

      It took years to rebuild my confidence, to pull down my metaphorical brick wall. I still feel hesitant sometimes to put myself forward to join groups of established friends, even when they have been nothing but nice. Even with knowing what I do now, it’s still hard to escape the effects.

  22. I love this. I have tried to teach my kids that Mom’s always got their back if someone’s treating them badly. I will be talking to my kids about this and adding it to their repertoire. Along the lines of your “bullies aren’t very smart,” my teen helped a friend of his feel better after a situation at school by helping her talk to administration and then telling her not to worry, “those assholes will be washing our cars one day.” Good point, kid.

    • Wendy Thomas


      We say much the same thing about bullies or kids who show up to class just to show up.

      We were talking about this whole thing last night (I wanted the kids to know that there might be discussion at school on this if any of the adults or teachers had read this blog). All of my kids weren’t in the least bit worried about talking to an adult about this precisely because they all know “I’ve got their back.”

      In fact one of my daughters said, “Mom, don’t worry, if I get called into an office to have a talk about this, just like they do in the TV shows when they say they won’t talk unless their lawyer is here, I’ll just say, give me my one phone call, I’m gonna call my mom.”

      It’s nice when your kids recognize that you’re their advocate.


  23. A rousing dialogue and a stunned bully. LOve it!

  24. Nathan

    The only thing I disagree with here is that bullies are dumb. In many cases they are some of the brightest kids in the school, and it starts early. They learn what the best way to make a sensitive kid feel useless and weak, or as my seven year old daughter says, “invisible.” These bullies hone their attacks with intelligence, and are even nice sometimes to make it all the worse.

    “Fuck you, you miscreant,” is still a wonderful response.

    My father told a story about my older brother punching another kid in kindergarten. We’d just moved from inner city St, Louis where there were lots of different kinds of people to a town with maybe two or three non-white families in New Jersey.

    Dad was called to school to deal with it, and my brother was in the hallway sitting by himself. My dad, who is certainly willing to stand up for himself, asked my brother what he was thinking to hit another child. “Dad, he called this girl a Paki.”

    Dad told my brother that hitting was still not appropriate, but that he was proud of my brother for standing up for a kid getting bullied. Then he went into the principal’s office and said, “Did you ask my boy WHY he punched the other kid.” The principal said, “No,” My father, who grew up in Appalachia, is ex-Navy and has a PhD in physics so was really strong and really smart at about 32, said, “Next time maybe you should find out what kind of shit is happening in your school before punishing my boy.”

    And walked out. Didn’t argue with the principal, didn’t tell my brother’s side. Just took my brother out for ice cream.

    Good dad.

    • Wendy Thomas


      I have a feeling your dad and I would get along. 🙂

      You’re absolutely right. Bullies can be smart but they usually aren’t book smart. Very few people (adults included) know what the word miscreant means. The point here is to: Show anger Respond (stickup for yourself) Create unbalance – which can help break an action

      I remember as a teen I was being bullied by a violent guy. He was pushing my buttons, although I had slept well (8 hours) 2 nights earlier, the last night I had only slept for 2 hours. In the middle of his tirade, I yelled out,

      Do you know that 8 +2 = 10 divided by 2 = 5?

      I was trying to tell him that I hadn’t had a lot of sleep and to give me a break.

      When I said that, however, the look of complete incomprehension was priceless, he absolutely didn’t know how to respond and he walked away.

      That, along with saying something that will attract help is what I’m going for.


  25. You remind me of my mom, which is pretty awesome. She always taught us to fight back, to not stand of mistreatment or bullying.

    Also, ‘miscreant’ is an awesome word. 🙂

    • Wendy Thomas


      Thanks for the compliment.

      I have always said that I didn’t have kids to have them waste their lives sitting in front of the TV, I had kids so that they can make a difference in the world and make it a better place.

      It all starts at home.


  26. I for one wholeheartedly approve the using the F bomb in a bullying situation. I think the adults need to be made aware of bullying as it happens. I also know that they will put a child into in school suspension for fighting back against a bully or for defending themselves. I have a friend who’s daughter said if someone tried to hurt her at school she’d stand up for herself and fight back. That child was told that she’d be just like the bully and would land in detention etc. The mother and father are fighting back.

    Fuck you, you miscreant works beautifully–no hitting just using loud words to let em know what it is!

    Good for you.

    • Wendy Thomas


      So true about the fighting back. In our house, one of the things I preach is not letting yourself lower your standards to those of the bully.

      And once again, I’m not advocating that children starting cursing as a part of their everyday language, I’m teaching my kids a tool to pull out that when used appropriately will create unbalance in the situation and will get attention from an adult (or other children.)

      Kids think that punches will win the battle, it’s only when you get older that you understand that words are far more powerful.


      • Wendy: Just a quick addendum. My Teen came home today and told us a story about a situation at her school in which our very sweet school valedictorian had been cyber bullied via Facebook and Yahoo over a cute video she’d posted where she asked a celebrity to be her prom date. The venom of one particular girl was outrageous. The girl’s friends (my daughter and others in the class) fought back. Today they went to the principal and ratted out the mean kids. After she told me about it, I read her your blog post and told her that I was very proud that she was able to do the right thing.

        And I have no problem with the F bomb if it will attract attention to the problem.

        Too many young people are dying because they are being bullied. It has to end.

      • Wendy Thomas


        Please tell your daughter that I’m also proud of her, she’s my kind of chick and would be welcome in our flock any day. 🙂


  27. I don’t have time to read all the insightful comments that have already been posts so I apologize if I’m only echoing others. Two thoughts. The use of the F-word in my grandson’s school could mean an in-school suspension, which would effect his eligilbility for several activities, so I can’t recommend that. How about a variation on Wendy Thomas’ suggestion – “You can’t hurt me, you miscreant!” Some of the same positives with an added point of self-empowerment.

    • Wendy Thomas


      Point taken, although if my child was suspended for using this phrase you can be darn sure that I would be in the school defending her case, but then her goal isn’t being in the service so we don’t have the same (and very valid) concern that you do.

      Another person earlier noted that although she agreed with this approach she didn’t think it was appropriate for a 5 year old to say. I also agree.

      What is needed in all of these cases where my phrase is not acceptable or where there might be an objection to it is a phrase that:

      – Is said very loudly (to convey anger at the situation) – Is short, gets to the point, in and out – no chance for discussion – Gets an adult’s attention (FUCK YOU, SHUT UP, STOP HURTING ME, BUGGER OFF, STOP! all work) It doesn’t have to be a curse, it just has to be a word or phrase that will get a busy teacher or adult’s attention, heck, you could even use your Dog’s name (PIPPIN OFF, YOU MISCREANT) – And includes the key word (miscreant) which will cause a pause and break the break the line of thought or action.



  28. Cindy

    I was raised not to take any sh#t from anyone – and I didn’t. I agree with the poster who said that bullies/criminals, etc, target those people who appear weak (to them). The key is not to appear weak but walk with confidence, intelligence, and with knowledge of what is going on around you. I was never bullied, I’ve lived in NYC, Chicago, etc and other big cities and have never been approached, targeted, etc. Bullies are cowards, have no self-esteem and lead lousy lives – standing up to them and letting them know who really is the boss – is key. 🙂

    • Wendy Thomas


      Well said. Standing up to a bully (which includes an arsenal of tools like the one I suggest) is so important. Be prepared, role-play so that when it happens (and it will happens, bullying is part of life) you’ll be prepared and will be less likely to act like the deer in the headlights.


  29. I like this, there are only two problems that I can see with it.

    One, teachers will hear the curse from your child and have heard nothing from the other child. Your child will get in trouble for cursing and the other will get away with a warning.

    Two, bullies are stupid. When I was a child my father wanted me to call my bully a self-centered egotistical mollusk. I did. Everyone laughed and started calling me the names the bully used. Talk about backfiring.

    I’ve taught my children to go to teachers. My son was being bullied by a teacher. He left the room and walked straight to the principal’s office. He figured he would get a referral anyway, at least this way his side would be heard. He didn’t get in trouble, but the teacher was reprimanded.

    My husband has a great comeback for bullies that my daughter has adopted. When they start in on you, turn the comment around and make them look stupid.

    “Addy, you’re a jerk, you’re fat, and ugly, and you shouldn’t be at this dance.”

    “Oh, then I guess you shouldn’t be here either.”

    I agree with you about your three points as you laid them out for Elizabeth.

    • Wendy Thomas


      If my child gets in trouble at school for cursing, I’m going to go to the school with a print out of this post and let them know EXACTLY why my child was using that language (and once again I want to stress that I haven’t given my kids freedom to talk like this all the time, I’m teaching them that this is a very effective tool to use when needed.)

      I know that in the world of bullies things can backfire but I also taught my daughters (and my two youngest are girls which is why my side of the discussion is focusing on girls but trust me, we’ve had our issues with our boys being bullied) that if the bully comes back and calls them a miscreant “No, YOU”RE a miscreant” that my girls should respond with, No, I’m a Miss. last name and walk away.


  30. I look at all the parents saying that they don’t want their child to say bad language in the face of a BULLY and it saddens me! Bullying kills people, and you’re shying away from your child using every tool at their disposal to get a teacher’s attention!

    It’s a word. If the choice is having your child bullied vs them standing up for themselves in a way that gets an adult’s attention, or shows that they aren’t easy fodder, then HELL YES, I’m for the swearing.

    And trying to qualify it by saying, oh they could use a different way – well yes they could, but this is a way for them not to look like a weak whiner, or a tattle tale (also targets for bullying). Perhaps you’ve forgotten the cruelty of bullies. They don’t respond well to Heck and Jeepers. They may not respond to swears – but an adult around them WILL.

    GREAT post Wendy.

  31. You are a genius. *applauds*

  32. The bullying thing has gotten so ridiculous, especially now that they have the Internet and texting as ammo. I definitely will teach my kids to fight back. I had a bully once (granted, in comparison to what’s going on today, he was MILD), who I always ignored, because I was always told to ignore them. It wasn’t until two years later when I snapped back at him that he left me alone.

    Fight back! Bullies pick on those they know they can bully. I’m willing to drop the F-bomb to get ’em gone.

  33. Cindy

    I think we have to be proative, as parents, in teaching our children to stand up and not be afraid of confrontation. I’m not advocating initiating confrontation – just being prepared in the event a bully, etc confronts them. Sometimes I think present day society is too scared or timid or fearful of possible consequences. This attitude gives bullies strength. We must teach our children to be strong, strong-willed and never allow another person to denigrate or humiliate them. I’m not advocating rudeness, etc. I’m suggesting we need to lead by example, have a back bone, get involved when we see wrongs committed, not ignore bullying or pretend it couldn’t happen to our children. They will learn by example. I’ve seen too many examples of adults ignoring bad behaviour, turning the other cheek to discrimination, etc.

    Wendy – I applaud you for initiating this important discussion!

  34. Cindy

    Here’s an example of how I and my family dealt with a sticky situation when I was in high school (wasn’t really bullying but same kind of attempted intimidation). I was the Editorial Editor on my high school’s newspaper. Sometimes I would write a piece that could be perceived as contraversial. Well – after writing one such piece, I started receiving death threats. The first time I answered one of these calls, I just hung up. The phone calls continued. My father told me to watch how he handled it. He answered the next time and said, “If you ever call this house again, I will find you and kill you and I’m not kidding.” The phone calls stopped cold. The next week, a student approached me and said my editorial enraged him to the point of wanting to hurt me. I said, “Fine. Write a letter to the editor expressing your views. Oh, and by the way, if you ever try to do anything to me, I will kick your ass and then refer you to my father.” Never had another problem. 🙂

  35. Rachel Mary Bean

    This made me think of a story from when my brother was in school. They were getting a talk about bullies and how it is not okay to hit back. The teacher said, “and I’m sure all your parents would agree with me.” Both my brother and my cousin raised their hands to disagree. We were taught to defend ourselves, also.

  36. Amazing! When it comes time, I will also teach this to my kids.

  37. Juli

    If a situation does get to the point where you must contact the police, don’t overlook letting the school administrators know you won’t hesitate to contact your local media, too. If the threat of bad press doesn’t make them sit up and take notice, then don’t be afraid to follow through. Pick a reporter from the newpaper that covers your town or region, one who isn’t afraid to wade into the school district and get the story, and contact them directly. If you can’t get through by phone, look him/her up on Twitter; most good reporters have Twitter accounts, no matter how small their daily or weekly might be. Do the same for your local or regional television station, but in that case be sure to contact both the reporter and the News Director. Let the reporters know you’ve had to contact police about repeated bullying at the school. Calling public attention to such a problem might also cause other parents to question their own children about what they might have seen or experienced at school, and children who might not have said anything to their parents might then open up about problems they’ve had. We must use all means at our disposal call attention to bullying so it can be stopped.

  38. Heather

    You are my hero!

    I’ve posted about bullying a few times myself, but you…you have put it wonderfully. While my boys are only 3, I’ll be teaching them the same thing when they get older. I don’t want them to swear, but in cases of bullying…go for it.

    Kudos to you!

    • Wendy Thomas


      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad to see that you understand I am not endorsing arbitrary swearing but I am equipping my kids with every tool I have so that they can protect themselves. Today, it’s a “FUCK YOU, YOU MISCREANT” to a bully, years from now this training and sense of self-empowerment might translate to a “You Can’t Talk to Me Like That” to a boss.


  39. Fantastic. You’re a wise mom. I told my kids something similar–worked like a charm!

  40. Jill

    Adults can be terrible bullies in the workplace as well. I used to give people the opportunity to change and when they did not, I did not lose any sleep over firing an adult bully who made their employees cry every week. I did not wish them harm, but was just happy they would no longer be harming my employees. (I usually had to argue with others who said, “Oh…really…”Sandra” has been like that for years…that is just how she is.” What? That is an actual argument? If that individual has been tormenting their employees or co-workers for years and you KNEW about it, you are a big part of the problem! It doesn’t make it “ok” that it has been occurring for years–that argument made me livid!

    Wendy–I agree that we need to teach our kids to stick up for themselves when they are young so that their future boyfriend, boss, or co-worker treats them well or they will hear about it==loud and clear. I can recall being in college and applying for a job at a restaurant and it took several weeks to hear “you are hired”. My FIRST night on the job, the owner had three waitresses crying because he was so demeaning to them as human beings. It literally made me sick to my stomach. I went back the next day and quit directly to his face telling him that his treatment of his employees was unacceptable and that I would not spend one more day in his restaurant and that one day was too much. I said this directly in front of one of the waitresses that was crying the night before and I truly hope she left as well, as it was not a good environment for her.

    I hope and pray that my kids have that kind of confidence to know that no one is allowed to treat them like dirt and they are allowed to tell off anyone that is an adult bully or a child bully.

  41. Laura

    As a mother of two bullied children– what do we expect the school system to do? This is an honest to God question. Because when it came down to it, I wanted to go in there and tell them how to handle it since what they were doing wasn’t working, and I came up with NOTHING. Short of removing that bully from any situation involving my child, nothing would have worked. The bullying took on a new light once the principal dealt with it– now my son was not only GAY, he was a SNITCH too. It seems almost impossible, short of just kicking the kid out, to stop this kind of behavior when the teachers’ backs are turned. My kid would be yelling that every thing, all day, and maybe, eventually, he just would have been alone, untouched, but so ALONE. We pulled him from school. He stays home now. Best decision of my LIFE. Because at the end, it was all the time from everyone. I’m telling him college will be better. I didn’t want him to end up like the stories I’ve read of kids who killed themselves.

    Since I can’t control the idiot parents or the idiot himself, I tried to teach my child how to live with idiots. I told him that someday at work he might have a boss that’s a complete idiot, etc. and we have to learn coping mechanisms, etc. But, you know, life is short, so if your boss is an idiot, report him, and if that doesn’t work, QUIT.

    Being on the other end of this, actually having a child who was bullied, I just don’t know what the answer is. The school tried to stop it– interventions, special talks with the students as a whole, one on one with the worst ones. They just couldn’t stop it, because ultimately, this kind of thing must be stopped at home. And if the parents are bullies or lazy or clueless, it will not stop. Period.

  42. B

    I work with children–in an afterschool setting–and I always take accusations of bullying very seriously. There isn’t a whole lot we can do, as the only punishments we’re allowed to mete out are time-outs and talks, but I do try to let the bully (and I do know which children in my group are the biggest bullies) know that the behaviour is unacceptable.

    I was the kid in school who always got in trouble for standing up to bullies. My parents were very big on “walk away”, which works sometimes, but is often impossible for kids. Being bullied can mean being surrounded by other kids, you could be on the bus, or in class.

    I ended up with a scary reputation. I was the kid who could beat up the bullies. By high school, I rarely had to get into physical fights (only one, which ended up with me having a juvenile record and the bully being treated as the victim, fair right?), and I had a lot of nerdy friends who used me to avoid bullies.

    Once, on the bus, I had a bully spit gum into my hair. I ripped the affected area of hair out, while staring him down. I got a reputation for being crazy, and never was physically bullied on the bus again, without ever having to touch him or involving an adult–though it isn’t something I would recommend to a child in my care, because it hurt like a S.O.B.

    I think physical bullying is much easier to deal with than emotional bullying, and most children, even the nicest, are guilty of it at some point. It, in my opinion, creates far more damage, and the psychological effects last much longer. It’s also harder to substantiate and get adult help for.

    Personally, I love your take on bullying. And it does wonders for kids to know that their parents will back them, even if it means getting into trouble with other adult authority figures.

    Kudos to you.


  43. Oh … well … we don’t “do” the F word … Our alternative is “Outa my face you retromingent troglodyte!” Bully the Bullies!

  44. arbie

    My 4th grade daughter was being bullied in school (another girl was constantly trying to take her lunch and putting her hands on my daughter’s face and grabbing her after being told to stop). I told my daughter to tell her teacher, which she did. The teacher spoke to the other girl but the behavior did not stop. I told my daughter to speak to the Guidance Counselor. He spoke to the child to no avail. I asked my daughter if she wanted me to get involved. When she said yes, I went to the school and spoke to the principal. She took some action but still, the behavior continued.

    I then told my daughter, then a blue belt in karate, that she did everything she was supposed to do. If that child continued putting her hands on her, she had my permission to make it stop as she was trained. I told her she would be sent to the principal’s office and I would be called, so she need not worry. I told the principal that the bullying was still ongoing and that my daughter was trained in karate and the instructions I had given her. Amazingly, the behavior stopped immediately thereafter.

    My purpose for giving my daughter karate lessons was certainly never intended for use in the 4th grade. The purpose was (and still is) for the idiot ten years from now who doesn’t understand the word “no” in English; I want her to be able to say it in Japanese! But the mere knowledge of her skill certainly helped in the 4th grade.

  45. I likr you approach Arbie. Follow the procedure and then stick up for yourself if you need to. That makes perfect sense to me.

  46. As a parent who did teach her son to fight in self-defense, and defended his right to defend himself even when the school punished him for responding TO violence WITH equal force – I applaud you and this decision.

    Maybe if a few more decent people would stand up and lay down an un-ignorable line, the bullies would be forced to stop this despicable behavior.

    Good on you!

  47. Handing your child strength and a voice then saying you damn well use it!
    I love it!
    I used to tell my kids, even a teacher can be a fool. If they humiliate you, you get up and walk out of that classroom. Just because your a kid doesn’t mean you don’t get to fight back!
    Thank you for sharing this!

  48. anonymous

    It’s great to see so many supportive and active parents on here. The solution starts in the home, so true.

    Unfortunately, for me the problem was in the home itself. I had no problem standing up to bullies at school, but what is a kid supposed to do when their own parents (or siblings) are bullying them? My father was physically and emotionally abusive for years. It continued even after I had moved out and become an adult — whenever I came back to visit, he would start up again, making vicious comments when other people were around and starting fights when they weren’t. When I fought back I was told that I would be thrown out of the house or reported to the police for assault. My mother was no help; she told me it was my fault, that I should “get used to it,” and that I must be doing something to antagonize him. Even my older brother the black belt did nothing. Finally one day I threatened to call the police. He hasn’t hit me since. If I had known growing up that all I had to do was *threaten* to get him to stop…

    The key here is, the bullies will try and make the kids feel like victims. It’s what they want, and they often use the threat of authority (lax teachers, being a “snitch,” etc.) to terrorize the kids into not reporting them. They’ll make them feel like it’s their fault, like they deserve it because they’re a geek or a fag or a bitch or ugly, etc. It’s essential to teach kids young that they don’t take shit from anyone.

    As for “FU, you miscreant,” it might work for some, but for others it might only antagonize the bullies further. Thing is, most bullies know enough to know that what they’re doing is wrong and that they could get in trouble for it. So a threat to tell, or in the vein of the one poster who said “i’ll kick your ass, then refer you to my father” might actually work better. 🙂

    • Cindy

      Anonymouse – I’m sorry that your home life was filled with bullying – at the hands of your own father! Hopefully, at some point, he will realize his failures and ask your forgiveness. If not, it seems you have “risen” above his abuse and have chosen not to perpetuate it. No child should have to endure that type of home-spun abuse. The fact your mother did not intervene and blamed you – well – she owes you an apology, too. My mother would have kicked my father’s ass then taken us and divorced him.

      I’m the poster who wrote, “I’ll kick your ass, then refer you to my father.” It really did work and I really would have kicked the bully’s ass – then let my dad finish him off. My parents taught me NOT to be physically violent or verbally aggressive unless I felt threatened. The few times I had to “employ” this tactic – it worked.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Cindy

      Oops – I meant “anonymous” not “anonymouse” – I’m planning a Disney trip and I have “mouse” on the brain!

  49. Pingback: Monday’s Top 5 (Better Late than Never) | The Happy Logophile

  50. Amy

    I think I love you. Lots. Thank you for this.


  52. Lindsay

    My 3 year old son was being bullied in his church class. The teachers had talked to the mom about her son’s behavior and nothing was done. So, we taught him how to throw a punch. We taught him when and how to use it (only after asking then yelling STOP). We even informed the teachers that this might happen. We didn’t take it lightly, but I want my kids to know that it’s not ok for someone to beat up on you physically, verbally, or otherwise. And secondly, we’ve taught our older daughter that it is her job to do the right thing and step in if she sees someone else in trouble. I would much rather my kids get in trouble for standing up for someone else, doing the right thing, than standing by and being safe.
    This is a great method for older kids in a verbal situation. Don’t know if I’d use the same words, but the technique is pretty awesome.

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