How to Deal with a Bully, According to Jillian Michaels

I have always believed in Hammurabi’s code of an eye for an eye. I used to tell my kids, “You are not allowed to start a fight, but if someone starts one with you, you have my permission to finish it.”

We’ve all been there, right? Sometimes kids are bullies and the recess yard can be like Thunder Dome meets Lord of The Flies and prison rules prevail.


In fact, we recently had a bullying situation with our son; he was getting in fights with this one boy repeatedly.

Our first step was to talk to the teachers at his school. Nothing changed. Then, we talked to the parents of this kid. Nothing changed. Not because his parents didn’t care, but kids will be kids at the end of the day. They’ll act how they want to act and make their own mistakes.

Related: 20 Questions: Jillian Michaels Fills Us In

So, I decided I was going to enroll my son in karate lessons. Enough was enough. He needed to learn how to fight back. But, Heidi, my partner, had one last thing she wanted to try.

She asked this boy’s mom for a play date with our son. At first I thought she was insane. I was sure it was going to be like Rocky and Apollo — mono a mono. I wondered: What would be different? A play date is the same thing as recess, right? Wrong.

When we got the boys together alone, without other kids and outside influences, they got along great. I was stunned. And to this day they are great buddies.

Don’t get me wrong. If that hadn’t worked I would have definitely gone back to my default of justified self-defense. But the bigger lesson I took away is that, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” (Yes, I just quoted Abe Lincoln; I think it’s appropriate here.) And, hey, going that route is a lot cheaper than jujitsu lessons.

More on Bullying:

Photo: Getty