A Mindful Response to Bullying
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Having worked in the bullying prevention field for over a decade and as a co-author of Committee for Children’s Bullying Prevention Unit, I know that bullying, when it happens, can cause stress for kids and families. Practicing mindfulness can help create calm, supportive environments in the home and at school—environments that don’t support bullying.
In honor of Bullying Prevention Month, we’ve created a special playlist you can share with the kids in your life. The good news is that everyone touched by bullying can contribute to an improved climate, including those who bully, those who are victimized, and those who witness bullying.
Mindfulness can help children who are being bullied practice techniques for staying calm.
We encourage children who are being bullied to tell a trusted adult and to be assertive when standing up for themselves and others. Being able to respond assertively, but not aggressively, requires calm self-control. Mindfulness sessions can help kids practice breathing techniques that will help them stay calm and focused.
According to a Committee for Children white paper on bullying, “students who are bullied can suffer negative effects that last into adulthood, including depression, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness.”
We also know from research that highly reactive children are at greater risk for being targets of bullying. Sometimes kids doing the bullying are looking for a big, emotional response. Mindfulness practices can help reactive kids understand how they can use breathing techniques to calm their minds and bodies, potentially reducing their risk of being bullied.
Share these Mind Yeti sessions with children who are being bullied:
Hello, Breath: Say hello to your body’s calming super power: your breath.
Slow Breathing: Get to know a special breathing technique you can use to settle the Hubbub.
Slow Breathing 2: Discover how slow breathing can help you calm strong emotions.
Practicing mindfulness can help children who are bullying others learn to exercise self-control and express empathy.
Children who fall into a pattern of bullying others are also at higher risk for a wide range of problems, including abusing alcohol and other drugs, getting into fights, and doing poorly academically. Some kids who bully others do so impulsively, without much thinking, while others seem to lack compassion and deliberately intend to make others feel bad.
Mindfulness practices can help impulsive kids slow down and think before doing things that will harm themselves and others. And visualizations that promote kindness and gratitude can help put kids who need to strengthen their capacity for empathy on the path toward behaving in a more prosocial way.
Share these Mind Yeti sessions with children who are bullying others:
Hello, Hubbubbles: Meet your Hubbbubles—the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that fill your mind.
Cool the Volcano: Practice this strategy and use it whenever you feel angry.
The New Kid: Practice kindness by imagining doing something kind for someone else.
Mindfulness practice can help all children by setting up positive environments at school and at home.
Creating a home or classroom environment in which respect and kindness are valued is a key component to reducing the likelihood of bullying. Building a daily mindfulness practice can help children build skills for interacting more peacefully, for managing their emotions, and for taking the time to contemplate how their kind actions can benefit others as well as themselves.
Share these Mind Yeti sessions for families and classrooms to share:
Hello, Gratitude: Learn to notice the good things in life and say “Thank you.”
Growing Kindness: Boost your mood by taking time to appreciate nature.
Tree in the City: Calm your body and focus attention with this movement session.
A regular mindfulness practice and a proactive approach to bullying prevention can help all kids grow up in safe, supportive spaces. For more information on bullying prevention in schools, download the Committee for Children white paper or explore this resources page.
 Rodkin, P. C., & Hodges, E. V. E. (2003). Bullies and victims in the peer ecology: Four questions for psychologists and school professionals. School Psychology Review, 32(3), 384–400.
 National Institute of Child and Health and Human Development. (2001). Bullying widespread in U.S. schools, survey finds. Retrieved from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/bullying.cfm
Mia Doces is the VP of Innovations at Committee for Children, where she is responsible for identifying and supporting new avenues for broadening the organization’s mission of fostering the social-emotional development, safety and well-being of children.