Mommyish Poll: There Are Three Types Of Responses To Bullying — Which One Do Your Kids Exhibit?

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A new study in the journal Child Development has determined that children tend to respond to bullying in three distinct ways. The three strategies are closely linked with how kids viewed social relationships.

University of Illinois psychology professor Karen Rudolph discovered that children tend to adopt one of three approaches when faced with harassment:

“Some are focused on developing their relationships. They want to improve their social skills. They want to learn how to make friends,” she said.

Others are most interested in “demonstrating their competence,” she said. They may try to demonstrate their competence by enhancing their status or seeking approval from their peers. “These are kids who say: ‘I want to be cool. I want lots of kids to like me. I want to hang out with the popular kids.’ ”

Or they may try to demonstrate their competence by avoiding negative judgments. “These are the kids who say, ‘I’m not going to do anything that’s going to draw negative attention, that’s going to make me look like a loser, that’s going to embarrass me,'” Rudolph said.

The kids who were very social and liked to make friends were more likely to ask teachers or other grownups for advice. They were also less likely to respond impulsively to the bullying. Those who wanted to appear cool to the bullies were much more likely to retaliate to the teasing on their own. More passive children who were resigned to do nothing tended to encourage their tormentors even more.

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