Take A Stand: Prevention of Bullying – Ages 11-12, Day 5

Take A Stand: Prevention of Bullying

11-12 year olds – Instructional Guide Day 5

By Sherryll Kraizer, Ph.D.



  • To acknowledge that adults have problems
  • To acknowledge that they sometimes take their problems out on their children
  • To introduce the concept of words that hurt
  • To give permission to tell someone when they’re being hurt
  • To discuss the importance of truthfulness and thoroughness when telling
  • To discuss resources for getting help and teach children how to tell effectively


Teacher-Directed Discussion and Role-play 

How many of you recognized, since the last time, that you were being a bully, or being unkind to someone or making someone else feel bad? 

Did you go back and apologize or do anything to make up for your behavior?

How did you feel after that?

How do you think the other person felt? 

How many of you brought back examples of advocacy in group bullying situations? 

Allow a few minutes of discussion of examples of this.


Hurtful Words

Do grown-ups or older kids ever hurt you with their words?

Just because someone gets upset and says things that aren’t very nice, that doesn’t make what they say true. 

What if someone says to you, (say this loudly, like you mean it) “You can’t do anything right.” Or “I hate you!” Does that hurt?

Where do you feel it in your body? 

What emotions do you have?

What do you feel like doing?


Now I have an exercise that will help you learn not to take what people say inside, to not let people’s words hurt you.


NOTE: Choose a child with pretty good ego strength for this next exercise.  Say the following and throw either nerf balls or pieces of paper as you say the words so they hit the child.  Say these phrases like you mean it so the full impact is felt.  As shocking as it is, the point of this exercise is to teach children not to internalize hurtful things that are said to them.  This exercise makes real the adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE DOING THIS EXERCISE, PLEASE DO NOT DO IT!   MOVE ON TO THE NEXT SECTION.


STEP 1: (use a pretty secure child) I have three pieces of paper (or nerf balls).  I want you to pretend that these are the words I am saying and to let them hit you.

          “You are such a brat!”  “You’re worthless!”  “I can’t stand to be around you!”

          Was that pretty shocking?  Was it hurtful?

          Is it true about you?  Of course not.


Who has the problem here, you or the adult?  The adult does and she is taking her problem out on you.

There’s no reason for you to take that into yourself.  So this time I want you to:

  • Step aside as you see the words and paper coming and 
  • At the same time say “That’s not true about me” inside your head when I say the hurtful words. 


Step 2: Teacher: Again throw the papers or balls and say,

“You’re such a loser?”  “You never get anything right!”  “I wish you’d never been born!”    

          If the child isn’t stepping away to avoid what you’re throwing remind them to do so.

          How does that feel?  How is it different?


Did the words hurt you that time? 

Note: If they did the child is still letting the hurtful words in, try having them say “That’s not true about me, out loud first and then silently.


Step 3: Now, if someone was really angry, they wouldn’t want to see you stepping aside, so this time just see the words coming toward you and then taking a big detour around you.  At the same time say to yourself “That’s not true about me.” 

Teacher: This time just say the words without throwing anything.

“You can’t do anything right.” “You’re so stupid, you’ll never learn this.” Did you let it in? 

          So you really do have choice about whether you let hurtful things people say into your self or not.  This same thing works with things kids say to you.  You have a choice.


RP:  Note:  Have a child who is particularly sensitive to what other kids say to him or her come up.  You start saying things so the child can practice disregarding them.  Then have 6 children line up and say things so the child can experience not caring what they say and not being aggravated by it.  Do this with several children who need to learn this skill.  This is particularly effective with bullies who believe they are set off by what people say to them.  They too can learn to ignore other people’s taunts


Adult Verbal Bullying

Everyone experiences unkind words from time to time and this skill is for knowing how to handle the occasional insult.  For some kids, however, this happens all the time and it can be really hard not to take it in.   

If an adult in your life hurts you with his or her words, and it happens to you a lot, you should tell someone about that. 

If an adult says unkind and hurtful things to you on a regular basis, they need to get some help with their problems.  It’s not about you; it’s about them.  You need to tell another adult who can be the one to help the person who says the unkind things.   

You need to keep telling yourself “That’s not true about me” and you need to get another adult to help. 


When you need to get help, who do you go to? 

          List them

Who else could you talk to if you were having a problem? 

          Really brainstorm and make this an expansive list.


Telling and Getting Help Effectively

RP: In this role-play the teacher should be the adult.

          Pretend I’m your uncle, and I’m physically mean to you?  I push you and smack you in the ear (pretend to do this in the role-play) whenever you don’t do things exactly as he wants you to. 

          You want to tell your mom.  Now pretend I am your mom.  What would you say and do if I was watching television?  

                    Role-play getting attention and telling. It is important to tell the whole story so mom has all the facts.

NOTE: It’s important that children learn how to effectively get attention when they need help.  Often parents, teachers or other adults are too busy or preoccupied to really listen to what children have to say.  Role-playing helps children learn appropriate ways to get attention when they need it. 

          Role-play the steps of getting someone’s attention

NOTE: Role-playing this is fun and involves several steps.  Allow them to do all the things they normally do that are ineffective so they can see how funny they are before you introduce steps 2 – 6.


  1. Try to get someone’s attention: talking when they’re doing something else, pulling on the persons clothes, putting your face in their face. All of these are more annoying than effective.
  2. Getting someone’s attention: That means the person stops what he or she is doing and looks at the child.
  3. Practice saying what actually needs to be said using three elements of communication (eye contact, accurate language and consistent body language).
  4. Practice having the person understand and do something about the problem.
  5. Also practice having the person not be interested or not help.
  6. Then, practice having the child go and tell someone else.


RP: In this role-play the teacher should be the adult.

          What if your sitter is always rude and ignores you?  You feel like she hates you and hates being there.  You want to tell your mom, but she’s been sick and you don’t want to bother her.   

          Would you need to tell her anyway?   

          Pretend I am your mom and show me what you would do? 


RP: In this role-play the teacher should be the adult.

          What if your aunt is always putting you down, telling you “you’re just lazy and good for nothing?” Who would you tell?

          Pretend I am the person you would tell and show us what you would say and do.

          What if I say, “Oh, she’s always talked that way, just ignore her.”  Would you tell someone else?  Who?

          If you tell an adult who doesn’t understand or help you with a problem, who else could you tell?


RP: Who has another example we could role-play.  Remember no names.

          Practice as time allows with their examples.



Do you need to be careful that you tell the whole story and that you are absolutely truthful when you are telling about something that has happened to you?  Why?

What could be the consequences of making something up or exaggerating your situation? 


Other Resources for Help

Can the school help with problems at home?

NOTE: Most young people think school problems are for school and home problems are for home.  They rarely think of overlapping their resources.

Can the adults you live with help with problems at school or at the neighbors?

Are you old enough to be responsible for asking for help?

I think so.  How many of you think so? 



This is the end of this program.  As a reminder of what we’ve promised to do to make this a better community for everyone, we’ve said:


We declare that we want to live in a community that treats everyone with respect.  We declare that we can be counted on to remind other people when they are not treating others with respect and consideration for their individuality.


Stand up if you can be counted on to keep this as part of your commitment in your life.


© 2016 Sherryll Kraizer, Ph.D.  Used with permission.




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Author Dr. Sherryll Kraizer has a Ph.D. in education with a specialization in youth at risk.