Playground politics: Great comeback lines that won’t get your kids into trouble

It can be tough knowing how to respond when we’re being teased or bullied.  Sometimes what we say can make it worse!

This article by Kids First’s psychologists may help you and your child understand what bullying is, and know how to respond to bullies in a way that won’t inflame the situation.

Clever comebacks to say to bullies

What is bullying?

Bullying is when a person, or a group of people, say or do mean things over and over.  It can be:

  • Verbal, such as name-calling.
  • Physical, such as breaking someone’s things.
  • Social, such as embarrassing someone in public.
  • Online, such as sending mean messages.

Bullying can happen anywhere, such as at school, or even on Facebook.

Why is bullying bad?

If your child is being bullied, they may end up feeling sad, confused, and hopeless.  They might try to avoid the places where the bullying happens.  Bullying can really affect your child if it is happening at school.

When children feel like they can’t cope, it can affect their ability to concentrate at school.  They might fall behind in their studies, making their worries even worse.

A child who is being bullied might feel like it will never end, and they might have thoughts about hurting themselves.

None of this is ok, especially when it is caused by someone else who has a choice about how they treat other people.

I am being bullied; what can I say to a bully, that won’t make it worse?

It can be tricky to remember what to say in a heated moment.  Sometimes people end up saying things in anger, or things that are unhelpful, and that can make it even worse!

Here are some ideas for comeback lines to practice with your child for different situations.

As a parent or teacher, you can use the scenarios and wording below to help children to understand what they can do to help themselves in a socially stressful situation

If you are asked to do something you don’t want to:

  • Say “no” in a clear, moderately loud voice. You don’t need to say anything more than “no”.  You want the bully to know that you will NOT do it.  This is being assertive.
  • Keep saying “no” to each request.

If someone says or does something that hurts you:

  • Try to keep your feelings under control, so that you don’t just Take a deep breath and say “stop it I don’t like it” in your assertive voice.
  • If the bully’s comment is actually true (let’s say a bully says “your shoes are PURPLE!”, meaning it as a taunt, and your shoes ARE purple) you can just say “that’s true”.
  • You might try saying “that’s your opinion” (let’s say a bully says “your purple shoes SUCK”).
  • To show them you don’t care, and their words and actions aren’t going to get a reaction out of you, you could say something like:

– “I’m not sure why you keep saying these things about me, but I don’t care”.

– “Whatever…”

Final tips

1.Practice makes perfect. Your child will feel more confident, and will more likely to remember how to respond to a bully if they’ve practiced it at home.

2.Help your child learn how to respond in different situations. Sometimes, it is best not to respond at all, so teach them how to walk away.

3.Help your children to recognise feelings of safety and danger. Any situation where your child might get hurt would fall into the ‘danger’ category. Teach your children that they should get help from an adult if they are feeling unsafe.

4.If the bullying is happening at school, inform teachers and get your child’s school involved so that assistance and support can be given to everyone involved.

5.If your child is a victim of cyber bullying, you can refer the matter to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner – check out

6.Avoid responding to the bully on your child’s behalf. When parent’s “stick up” for their kids it can inflame the situation, and ultimately make things worse for your child. It is rarely appropriate for an adult to confront a child, so use the correct channels – even if this means reporting physical attacks to the police.

7.If you’re noticing that your child is being negatively affected by bullying, such as having a low or anxious mood, or avoiding places, your GP is a great place to start. Your doctor can talk to you about what support is available in your local area.

© 2018 Kids First Children’s Services

Is your child being bullied?

If you think your child needs help to overcome the effects of bullying, please feel welcome to contact Kids First Children’s Services to chat about your child’s needs and find out how we can help.

If you have concerns for your child or would like more information about strategies to build resilience, our psychologists may be able to help. Please contact us on 9938 5419 or complete the ‘Contact Us’ form below.

Learn more about psychology and counselling at Kids First Children's Services


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