Raising Bold & Brave Kids: Prevention & Overcoming Bullying

  1. Stop Overprotection

"We're more worried about hurting our children's feelings than we are concerned about cultivating hearts that don't listen to fear when making decisions." (Coughlin, 2007)

Paul Coughlin gives us this list of actions of "Overprotective parents [and] Underdeveloped kids." (Coughlin, 2007)

  • Interrupt their children often
  • Tell their child what to think and feel, even telling them that what they are currently thinking or feeling is wrong. (In Christian circles, they might be told, for example, that feeling anger is sinful.)
  • Override their child's initiative 
  • Abruptly change topics of conversation
  • Tell their child to change his/her facial expression
  • Are only willing to discuss certain issues.


2)   Assertiveness

'For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.'    -2 Timothy 1:7

'...If God is for us, who can be against us?' -Romans 8:31b

Assertiveness is seen in courage, articulating opinions with respect, and maintaining healthy boundaries with others and self. Encourage assertiveness in your children by:

  • Listening to their beliefs and answering their questions with age appropriate honesty
  • Challenge them to take steps of courage (order pizza on the phone, talk to someone new at church, participate in a service project.)
  • Teach them conflict resolution skills by role playing or discuss how to have a healthier conflict after one has de-escalated. 
  • Teach confident body language (standing up tall, eye contact, walking with confidence)

We need our kids to learn to fight their own battles, if we continue to do it for them we are handicapping them for life. 


3)   Identity Development

When we recognize we have a hope, a future, a purpose and a calling from the God of the Universe, we don't allow the stressors of this world to burden us as much. Help your child see they have a life with purpose. Here are some ways to help:

  • Talk about both their strengths and their weaknesses. Addressing their weakness normalizes that we all have them and we can learn to live with them. 
  • Don't allow them to only focus on performance oriented experiences, like school, winning in sports or getting medals. Help them see that character traits such as compassion, honesty, and patience are more precious in God's sight. 
  • Let them explore their opinions and appearance. Sometimes clothes, makeup and hair styles are the only area of life kids have to control. Let them make modest and respectful choices as an outlet to be creative. Articulation of opinions are a necessary step to establishing self worth.  
  • Encourage them to have different experiences. Whether it is playing a new sport, joining a club at school, going to youth group or going on the youth group trip. We learn about ourselves when we are challenged or asked to do something out of our comfort zone. If we don't push ourselves to overcome our timidity, we can become stuck or passive, allowing fear to dominate our lives. 
  • Get them involved with a mentor who can be available for tough questions, life events, or spiritual direction. Having another adult walk along side your kids will open them up to other loving and Christ centered relationships that are available when your kids don't feel like they can come to you. (No fault of your own, this is one step in a healthy direction for your kids to one day separate from you while learning they can rely on other healthy relationships to give wisdom and encouragement.)


4)   Prayer

" ...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." -Matthew 17:20

We are all God's kids first. He cared so much for us He sent His only child to die for us. We need to trust that He is the ultimate parent and will guide both us and our kids in the right direction. 

Prayer is another active way to fight against bullying and the bully. Teaching our kids to pray for their bully is an act of submission and compassion. Our hearts cannot help but be changed when we pray. 


Books to Read:

  • Coughlin, Paul. No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps. 

                                     No More Christian Nice Guy. 

                                    No More Christian Nice Girl. 

  • Burns, Jim. Confident Parenting. 
  • Kimmel, Tim. Grace Based Parenting. 
  • Wiseman, Rosalind.  Masterminds and Wingmen. 

                                    Queenbees and Wannabes. 

  • Cloud, Henry & Townsend, John.   Boundaries. 

                                                          Boundaries with Kids. 

                                                          Boundaries with Teens.


Websites for raising kids/teens: 





Coughlin, Paul. (2007). No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House.




Paige Clingenpeel

Teen Therapist working with teens and parents on TV, Radio, Web-Based Media, Blogs, and Print. Presently a monthly contributor to the women's parenting & marriage site iMom.com, and host of TBN's Tween show iShine K'Nect. Paige also provides individual therapy at LifeSprings Counseling Center, and works at Parkview Health as a student assistant counselor assigned to Carroll High School. Paige is married to Ryan and has two daughters and two sons!