Kirkus Reviews QR Code
Bully Proof by Chris Leigh-Smith

Bully Proof

The Gift of Self-Esteem

by Chris Leigh-Smith illustrated by Sabrina Niebler

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4602-9162-7
Publisher: FriesenPress

A debut guide advises adults who want to help children eliminate bullying.

In his book, Leigh-Smith writes that when children come to him “saying that they have a bully in their life, the first thing that I do is congratulate them.” This upbeat, brains-over-brawn approach urges children to think of getting bullied as a challenging opportunity for personal improvement and growth, rather than as a negative encounter. This manual details 28 concepts and 20 hands-on strategies for extinguishing a bully’s fire, providing tips on how to ignore or deflect taunts. Part I highlights concepts—such as the different types of bullying—and lays the foundation for helping children understand their own self-worth. Confident kids with healthy self-esteem shed the “victim mentality,” asserts the author, and are less likely to be targets. Part II offers easy activities for building a child’s self-esteem. For example, kids can draw a “Dream Board” of desired life goals to help visualize their futures. According to the author, a child with an anti-bullying team of adults and a larger circle of friends is also less likely to attract bullies. Part III explores how youngsters can develop positive relationships with others. This gentle, thoughtful, and amicable manual sometimes delivers eyebrow-raising advice: telling a small child who has been pounded by a big kid to be empathetic with the perpetrator seems more like fantasy and less like the real world. But the author does present several practical points, including how to cope with cyber-bullies and document persistent harassment. For the novice, some of the mental tips are refreshingly new; for example, Leigh-Smith recommends that a child never stand still when confronted by a bully, as even slight shifts of the body can keep the mind from “freezing.” Embellished with debut illustrator Niebler’s cute black-and-white drawings, the pleasant, readable chapters flow easily and end with key concepts. Leigh-Smith’s conversational stories and sayings are memorable; for example, kids are urged to hold friends like water in their palms, instead of becoming too clingy. When all else fails, the author recommends physical self-defense (he is partial to martial arts) to escape a foe as quickly as possible.

Useful ideas about dealing with bullies, wrapped in a loving hug.