Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you crush your spirit.

It's not easy being a kid. One day someone is your friend and the next day they tell you that you are "out of the club." (Wait! This sounds a lot like being a grown up, too.) Mean words sting and being left out feels as bad as being punched in the gut. As children bob and weave through the minefield of social interactions, they need the adults in their life to help them survive the explosions. The more prepared they are to handle tough situations, the more likely they are to use their assertive skills to stand up for themselves.

Use these ideas to help your child keep their head high when others try to drag them down. These are the neccessities for their social toolbox.

Power Pose

Keeping a confident stance when someone puts you down helps reclaim the power that person is trying to take from you. Tell your kids to use body language to posture strength and confidence by keeping eyes up, shoulders backs, and head held high.

Be Direct

Maintaining that assertive body language, encourage your child to speak directly to the person who hurt their feelings. Give them example statements such as:

"That was a really hurtful thing to say. Do you like it when people talk that way to you?"

"When you say things like that, it really hurts my feelings."

And if the other person persists, "I won't let you treat me this way." (Then turn and walk away.)

Reflect

Give the situation a little time to settle, then have your child reflect on how they handled the situtation. Do they feel good about what they said? What would they do differently? What was the worst part? And the best part?

If your child still feels like the situation needs more resolution, help them brainstorm ways to talk to the other person and set boundaries for dealing with kids who hurt their feelings.

Our children do not have to feel like helpless victims – they can be empowered advocates for their own lives! Giving them these tools and helping them practice these skills will prepare them with solutions should a problem arise. It never hurts to have a plan in place for even the most unlikely of situations. Having a plan gives you power, because you will not be caught 100% off guard with no clue as to what to do.