Back to Bullying & Other Challenges: How Students Can Advocate for Themselves in Sept.



Hansen’s advice for young children and parents of young children:

As your children head out for the new school year, they will face new challenges. They will need to learn to advocate for themselves effectively. You can help by teaching them the 4 Ps. 

Pause—they don’t have to react right away. Most of the time if they are facing a bully or a “mean” teacher, there’s time to walk away and address it later. 

Plan-then they can come home and plan for their advocacy. This is where questions come in. How could they handle the problem? What do they want to say? How do they want to say it? 

Practice—playing it out with your children is a great way to make sure they are not only ready, but comfortable. I’d never step into trial without practicing, and your kids shouldn’t face their trials without practice either. (nor should adults!)

Play-when they get into the situation, all they have to do is “press play” on what they’ve prepped and practiced. They can go into the situation confident that they have the tools they need and that the conversation or interaction could even be fun!

This type of preparation also makes children much more likely to respond well when they don’t have time for the 4 Ps!

Hansen’s advice for college students:

As college students head out to their new lives without their parents, they will face new challenges. Some of those are hard, especially in the time of MeToo, frat hazing and social media bullying. Here are some ways they can advocate for themselves in tough situations, using the word DORM as guidance. 

D-Discover. First, discover yourself. You can’t advocate for yourself until you know what you want and what you don’t want. Also this is the time to learn your limits with respect to drinking, relationships, and social media. 

O-Object. You have to learn to object when you don’t like something. I was petrified the first time I objected in the courtroom. But no one can set your boundaries but you. When you know what you don’t want, it is time to use your voice and set those boundaries. Objections take practice so start small. Don’t be afraid to say “ I don’t like that”

R-Recognize tone and body language College kids need to know that bodies and voices can tell them as much as words do. Tone of voice is especially helpful, as studies show you can tell more about a person’s emotion from their tone of voice than their facial expressions. If they can read tone of voice, they may hear danger before they see it. 

M-Move. When you feel uncomfortable, read a weird tone in a voice, don’t like someone’s body language, or don’t like the response to your objection, you can leave. Don’t be afraid to move your body. Sometimes confidence follows. 



HEATHER HANSEN is a trial lawyer, consultant and professional speaker. She has defended medical malpractice cases for over twenty years, was recently inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers and is consistently named one of the Top 50 Female Attorneys in the state of Pennsylvania. Heather works as a communication consultant, combining her courtroom experience with her psychology degree and her training as a mediator to help her clients ask better questions, master objections, and use credible persuasion to succeed. She has appeared on CNN, NBC, Fox News Channel, and Good Day Philadelphia, and is the host of The Elegant Warrior podcast. Heather lives in New York City.



Connect with Heather Hansen on Facebook @HeatherHansenPresents, Twitter @ImHeatherHansen, Instagram @ImHeatherHansen, LinkedIn @HeatherHansenYouTube, and visit www.heatherhansenpresent.com.

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