5 back-to-school body language tips to defend against bullies

Each fall brings the exciting time of going back to school. For some children, back-to-school can also bring struggles — with making friends, speaking in class and facing the school bully.

The severe anxiety and stress which accompanies these struggles is greater than any child should face alone or ineffectively.

A simple solution? Help kids learn to change their body language. Body language and image expert, Yana German, shares tips for students on how to pass the school year with flying colors.

  • Keep an open posture. “Parents should always encourage their kids to stand up straight with their head and chin up,” says Yana. “Having great posture will instantly boost your confidence. Pulling your shoulders back and opening your chest is one quick fix that works wonders. Not only does it make you taller it boosts your inner confidence,” explains German.
  • Look peers in the eye. When a student is talking to another child he/she should always look them in the eye. “Nothing gives away your fear more than not looking at the person you are speaking to.” says German. “Looking someone in the eye and maintaining that contact for as long as you can is a great non-verbal way of expressing your confidence,” adds German.
  • Smile more.” Shy and vulnerable kids are usually easy targets for bullies. That’s why it’s really important to smile,” suggests German. “Smiling serves as your barrier towards any negativity, and bullies rarely target children who seem to be happy, calm and radiate good energy,” adds German. When a student rarely smiles, it can be a warning sign of low self-esteem.
  • Physically taking up more space than usual is the best way to gain confidence, says German. “If you are standing, take a wider stance than usual, put your arms on your hips. If you are sitting with a desk in front of you, use your arms on the desk to take up space.” German says. “This will make you feel more powerful and instantly give you more confidence.”
  • Relax your arms and open up your shoulders. “When a child or teen crosses his/her arms, it sends out a defensive signal that they want to be left alone,” explains German.  “He can put his hands in his pockets if he feels awkward holding his arms by his side. What’s important is that he keeps his torso open.  When the child’s arms at their side and they face the other child heart to heart it shows others he’d like to make new friends.”

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

If you think your child is being bullied, learn more about what you can do at


Lindsay Garbacik is an intern at Central Penn Parent. She attends Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill.

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