Cyber-bullying is only part of it, just a growing part. Bullying happens in so many contexts.

Bully or Victim – What can you do?

By Mark Spencer, ITA NLP Trainer, Advanced NLP Coach

A new analysis reveals that bullies and victims share more similarities than we might think, with one stand-out difference. Christie Nicholson reports from

This is a long post, so this is a few quicklinks to parts of the entry:

Cyber-bullying is only part of it, just a growing part. Bullying happens in so many contexts.

We might think that bullies are quite different from the victims of bullying. But those who become either a bully or a victim actually share similar outlooks and have similar difficulties dealing with their environments. There is, however, one significant risk factor for bullying.

Researchers reviewed and analyzed 153 studies and found that both victims and bullies have poor problem-solving skills within social situations. They also found that boys bully more than girls but here’s a significant point: Those who do poorly in school are at a higher risk of becoming a bully. The research was published this week in the journal School Psychology Quarterly.

Typical bullies have negative attitudes toward others, feel badly about themselves, and most likely grew up in a home with conflict. Victims share much of same, negative attitude, conflict in the family.
But the dividing characteristic: bullies dislike school and tend to perform worse academically than those who later become victims.

Podcast – Bully or Victim? More Similar Than We Might Think

Play the 1 minute Podcast here: podcast_100710.mp3

Most current solutions try to enforce anti-bullying rules or simply remove the bully from bullying situations. The authors note, however, that the most successful intervention is three-pronged. They suggest simultaneously targeting the areas that may be influencing the potential bully or victim in the first place: the parents, the peers and the schools.

Christie Nicholson from

Coping with bullies, part of growing up

Coping with the bullies ‘is part of growing up’, says child expert By LAURA CLARK, 28 October 2007
Minor playground spats are blown out of proportion and branded ‘bullying’, an expert has claimed.

Youngsters must learn to cope with teasing and name-calling so they are able to handle awkward situations as adults, former Government adviser Tim Gill says.

He believes the extent of bullying is being exaggerated by over-protective parents and teachers, who apply the label to childhood squabbles which were previously assumed to be part of growing up.

The claims, in a book published today, are certain to fuel concerns over the escalation of the bullying ‘industry’.

Police officers warned this year that a target-chasing culture is forcing them to make ‘easy’ arrests for offences such as bullying.

In one example, a child in Kent was arrested for throwing a slice of cucumber from a tuna sandwich at a classmate.

The latest Government guidance to schools urges heads to record all instances of bullying and report the findings to their local council.

But Mr Gill, who led the first Government-backed review of children’s play areas in 2003, warns against mollycoddling children by describing everyday teasing as bullying.

Read more of this article:

What NLP Tools Can You Use?

Many of us have had unpleasant experiences when we were younger, and some of these experiences are still with us, and some have become the insignificant distant memories.

Synaesthesia and Anchors

Many things happen at the moment of the unpleasant event, in this case, being bullied. NLP trained readers will notice the overlapping of senses that defines the moment and experience of being bullied. This overlapping of senses is then often associated with the surrounding area, the bully, the very location where bullying took place. In other words there is often a Synaesthesia and Anchor that has been created.

This means that children might react to the place where the association happens. They might be afraid to go to school, the play-ground or even being with other children. This association might also get generalised into other similar environments or people who somehow reminds the child of the bully.

Complex Equivalence

The child being bullied may assign meaning to the event and experience and the implication of the child’s sense of self worth might further impact the child into the future. In other words, this would be a complex equivalence that the child has created between the event and the meaning they have assigned to the event.

This complex equivalence is not just from the child’s own imagination. Often times, it comes from the re-actions that other children who observed the situation, teacher and parents’ reactions and comments as well.

The kind of complex equivalence(s) could be “I am not good enough”, “I am weak” or “life is horrible”. Negative self talk might start to play a part in the child’s life and losing motivation to learn, to participate and to explore life.

NLP Tools

Since you now understand it may fundamentally be about Synaesthesia, Anchor and Complex Equivalence, you can work to separate out the Synaesthesia and change the sub-modalities. You can also collapse Anchors of the various associations, especially the location where bullying took place and the environment. Collapsing Anchors and change the Synaesthesia should be done as soon as possible.

Engage in conversation with the child and carefully listen for their complex equivalence(s). Observe their behaviour, the pictures they draw, and the stories they read or tell. Whenever and where ever possible create counter examples, telling them metaphors and using any opportunities to reframe. Changing the complex equivalence is an ongoing process, not just for dealing with the event of being bullied, but also for many different challenging life experiences that we all experience as we are growing up.

Being able to show the child to self re-frame and challenge their own complex equivalence is a key skill to have.

Set Your Own Emotions Right

Please understand that your reaction as parents or role models has an impact on the child. It is important that you deal with your own emotions in the first instance of hearing the event that took place. You need to be as resourceful as you can be for the child. You can use many NLP techniques to change your emotional state, creating self resources and use language patterns to help you understand your own emotional reactions towards the event as well as towards the child.

Understand the Impact of Cybernetic Loops

In any one time we are engaged in a cybernetic loop when dealing with others and in an event.

When was the last time that your emotion was impacted by others and you subsequently affected others with your emotional state? You might be influenced after watching a news article, listening to music or chatting to a friend about what is happening in their life. Without self awareness, this emotional state might trigger a set of thinking patterns and behaviours that subsequently affects you or others in your life.

In a highly charged emotional situation, in this case if you are the parents whose child has been bullied, it is natural to feel strongly about it. It is important to be able to manage your emotions and to ensure no unnecessary complex equivalence can be made due to your re-actions or to intensify the child’s emotional association to the event.


Another tool that may be useful as the child wants to gain control of ongoing bullies would be diversion. This is basically a confusing technique that is supposed to interrupt patterns with the client or person in order to step in and take the lead and/or change frames. Often called a meaningful non-sequitur or pattern interrupt, this technique may confuse the bully long enough to have them scratching their head or walking away. You just want to create enough confusion so you can break their patterns (get them off guard) and then redefine the situation or simply walk off. Be ready to run also if this incites the wrong response.

Further Resources

Carolyn Laithwaite is an NLP practitioner with an excellent website covering the whole subject of Life After Adult Bullying with a specific page on NLP Counselling and NLP Self Help Tips.

Bullying outside school is a frequent source of trouble between neighbours and divides roughly 50:50 into school bullies and serious problems with local children. See this specific site for the full article and other resources.

Amazon: How to Handle Bullies, Teasers, and Other Meanies: A Book That Takes the Nuisance Out of Name Calling and Other Nonsense by Kate Cohen-Posey


NLP Connections: Verbal Bullying in School – Funny Comebacks as a diversionary strategy.

See also related articles on Mirror neurons, Emotional Intelligence and The Impact of Rude Behavior on a Business which might be where unresolved bullying or victims end up getting their revenge.


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