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How to Bully - Proof Your Child
The first thing you can do to “bully-proof” your child is to become informed.
Be a Detective: Here are some signs that your child might be a victim on bullying:
• Your child suddenly becomes less eager to go to school and shows this by asking to stay home or by faking illness. Your child may also cry before or after school for no apparent reason.
• You notice that your child is missing possessions or money and doesn’t have a good explanation as to why they are gone.
• Your child begins having sleeping problems including bedwetting.
• Your child is more irritable than normal and/or begins showing little interest is social activities.
• Your child’s grades and/or classroom behavior begin slipping.
• You see the physical signs of bullying such as bruises, cuts, scraps and torn clothing.
Know the Types. Bullying is not just a physical act. There are many different types of bullying:
• Physical bullying includes hitting, shoving, kicking and threats of other types of physical harm.
• Verbal bullying usually involves name-calling and mocking.
• Emotional bullying is quite common among girls. It’s subtle and often includes social exclusion and rumor spreading.
• Cyber bullying is rather new, but it is still harmful. This is when kids harass others through email, instant messages and chat rooms.
Identify Likely Targets. Some kids are just more prone to being targets of bullies than others. Common characteristics of bullied kids include
• those that are physically small and less likely able to defend themselves
• those that are physically different such as overweight, prone to acne or required to wear glasses or braces
• those who are shy, passive and easily intimidated
• those who don’t quite follow the “social rules” that kids set up such as kids who have habits that can be annoying to others or kids who become known as the class “tattle-tale”.
The second thing you can do to help your children is give them the skills they need to help themselves:
• Control their feelings of anger and frustration. Bullies thrive on the power they hold over other people and when they see their targets get upset or angry, it fuels their need to continue bullying.
• Stress that they should not fight back. You child could be seriously injured especially if the bully is older, stronger or bigger than your child. Besides, fighting back can cause more problems such as school disciplinary actions or even legal issues.
• Teach your child how to “walk tall and walk away”. Role play with your child by having him or her tell the bully to stop and then to confidently walk away – and to stay calm during the whole thing.
• Encourage your child to talk to others about it such as a guidance counselor, teacher or coach – someone your child trusts that can also give them some solid support.
• Remind your child to use the buddy system. If there are certain times of the day that your child is bullied, have him or her enlist a few friends to stick by his or her side during that time.
Unless you have been bullied it is truly hard to understand what happens. One way that you can teach your kids all of these skills is through martial arts. I should know. I was always the small kid during school up to my last year of high school. When I was bullied I was always told I brought it on myself. I admit, I was a little out of control, but asking people way bigger than me to beat on me? I don’t think so.
When I started martial arts I thought I finally would be able to give it back to these guys! What I learned was much different, however. I learned in a respectful way that fighting back was not the way to work out your difficulties and there always is someone bigger or better than you.
I also learned how to control fear. After al, two times a week I was pairing up with people that where good martial artists and applying self defense techniques that worked for me even on bigger people. I learned how to deal with violence with out all the emotion that often blinds us from making the correct decisions. I still remember the power I felt when I walked away from a fight, not because I was afraid of the person but because it was the right thing to do and I was afraid of hurting him. It was way different than what it was like when I walked and sometimes ran away from them because I was afraid they would hurt me.
Training martial arts is by no means the only form of combating bullying. It’s just that martial arts build back self esteem and make the person feel like they can control the situation giving them personal power. Martial arts teaches children to control their emotions and their bodies. It also gives them an outlet for their pent up emotions. And should they have to use it, they do have effective self defense skills ready to go.
However not all martial arts schools or martial arts teachers know how to teach these traits. Picking a school is not as easy as just going to the nearest school and enrolling your child. It could be the most important decision you make for your child and it needs to be researched. I don’t have the space to go into it here but you can go to our web page and get a free consumer guide on how to pick a school.
If your child seems to acting different don’t just pass it off as moodiness or a common characteristic of his or her age. There could be deeper issues and believe me they could be life changing.
About the Author: Robert Jones runs 3 successful martial arts schools in Bellevue, Lynnwood, and Federal Way Washington. For over 20 years he has been helping families to improve their lives through the practice of martial arts. To help people choose a good school he has written a comprehensive consumer guide on How to Pick a Martial Arts School