Back to school also means Back to Bully’s for many children. As parents, one of our jobs is to make sure our kids have some of the fundamental tools to stand in front of the bad guy; being the warrior or guardian over the victim or survivor. We put together seven simple ideas parents (with their children) can do to protect themselves from bullies before any incidents happen. While learning how to defend against physical attacks is important, these seven ideas are about helping to improve a child’s chance of never being involved in a bullying incident. This is the foundation of being bully proof!
Make sure you and your child clearly understand the purpose of a bully. I’m not referring to the deep and underlying psychological or sociological reasons behind the acts but the goal behind a bully’s action. We keep it simple. The purpose of a bully is to discourage you and the goal is the child is to not let that happen. This also sets the expectation that the purpose of a parent is to correctly encourage a child. Everything a bully does is focused on taking away courage! If you can accept this we can do something about it!
As a parent it’s important to understand the reasons why someone can get bullied. I wrote a list of 156 reasons before I stopped from boredom. To put it simply – a person can be bullied for any reason.
To understand this a bit better, you and your child need to make a list of 10 to 20 reasons why you can be bullied. The child does this for the parent and the parent for the child. As you read off the list to each other you want to look for the “that is ridiculous sign” – the giggle!
To help you out I’ve put together a small list of reasons I wrote this morning while on the train by just looking at the people around me. Notice how the reasons can be from both sides of the fences.
To end this off, hand the list to the person it’s about. Parent’s hand it to your child and child to your parent. Then ask yourselves – do any of those reasons make sense? For every reason you think is ridiculous put a happy face next to it. The happy face means “that’s crazy”. If you can recognize the crazy things a bully will say than it will be easier to ignore them if the time comes.
If you ignore everything in this article, don’t ignore this one rule. It’s the most important rule! Always tell your parents when you are bullied or see someone bullied. Parent’s, your role is to be a guardian and thus, take action when this rule is invoked. If your child is bullied and they tell the teacher…they still tell you! If your child is bullied and they tell the principle…they still tell you! If your child is bullied and they tell grandma Ethel…they still tell you! If your child is bullied and they tell the police…they still tell you! Rule #1, the most important rule – always tell your parents!
Pull out your list of reasons to get bullied. Hopefully they all have happy faces next to them…but some may not. These are the ones we need to look at and change. Again, as a parent (and I talk from personal experience) – it is my job (no matter how much yelling and screaming goes on) to ensure my child leaves the house clean and well-dressed. If I can’t afford nice clothes for myself I want to ensure my child looks nice. Poor clothing choices, odours, wrinkles and personal hygiene are the common reasons children get bullied. From a martial art perspective, these things represent the fundamentals of self-respect. We want our children to show self-respect first. If they don’t respect themselves, respect for others will be difficult.
So as a parent your goal is to be stern and guardian-like and do the following:
Good manners go a long way with demonstrating a child’s confidence and confidence is one of the best weapons a child has against bullies. A child will be less likely to be picked on – viewed as a victim by a bully if they demonstrate confidence. So, if we can improve our child’s confidence while at the same getting a few important manners built in – we get a double win! As a quick note, nice clothes and clean appearance improve a child’s confidence as well as having one “core” extra-curricular activity – like Karate!
Manner #1 – Look at people in the eyes when they talk to you or approach you. Looking people in the eyes is an important sign of confidence and very important when confronted with a bully. We always look at the bully in the eyes and have a nice smile. Each time your child talks to anyone, make sure they look at them in the eyes.
Manner #2 – Don’t fidget when other people are talking to you. Often when children (or adults) fidget they are not listening while simultaneously showing either a lack of confidence or a lack of value in what is being said (being disrespectful). Each time your child starts to fidget when someone is talking, put your hands on them gently and say “stop fidgeting, its rude.” This goes hand in hand with manner #1 and both help support the demonstration of confidence.
Manner #3 – Have a good hand-shake. Both boys and girls, men and women need to have a firm and proper handshake. Having a great handshake is about being confident in how you present yourself to other people. It’s a simple gesture that, as an exercise, helps build confidence. Make sure your child shakes the hand of people they meet. In our class, we have children introduce themselves to other people making sure they following all three basic manners!
Mr. Miyagi (original Karate Kid Reference) told Daniel-san, “Remember, best block, no be there.”; and he was right. One of the best ways to defend against a bully is not to be bullied. If we can accept the fact that we can be bullied (it does not mean, we will) than we can start to be aware of who is a bully and where the bully is. If we can be aware of the bully than we can do our best to avoid the bully.
As an exercise create a list of a few places at school or on the walk home that a bully might find you or someone else. Those are the places we need to be alert when thinking about bullies. If you have seen someone else bullied or you where bullied, write those down. Also make a note of where a school yard monitor or teacher was in relationship to where the bullying occurred.
Here are two examples to get you started. These are pretty common areas for bullies:
Tip number seven is all about confidence and awareness. It’s about demonstrating that we are aware of the bully and confident in our actions. We never run away from a bully – we walk! We walk with our head up, we don’t goof around, we keep our eyes on the bully if they are close and we have a nice smile on our face. Even though we might be shaking inside, on the outside we are showing that we are the confident warrior and never the victim!
In our Martial Art Classes and Personal Safety Workshops for kids we always make two things very clear – the first is the bullying is a family problem and the family needs to be able to handle the problem in a correct and empowering manner. The second statement we make is that becoming bully proof starts with building a confident child.
I guess there are three things – never forget rule number 1 – always tell your parents!
Durham Modern Martial Arts offers Group Classes for Children and Adults. In our kid’s classes we teach children how to handle two types of bad guys – the bad stranger and the bully. For more information on our group classes, help getting started with an introduction class or finding our more about upcoming community events, please do not hesitate to call us at 905-493-1044 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our introduction program is the best way to experience our martial art classes. It gives you an opportunity to meet our staff, train with our students and see why so many families choose our Martial Art school to build self-empowerment, self-confidence and self-protection. Our Introduction Program is $25 includes 2 group lessons and a free uniform.