Dictionary.com says: “Bully – a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.”
Wouldn’t it be great if you could bully-proof your kids?
Bullies have made it into the news quite a bit lately after degrading, pummeling, and even driving their victims to suicide. They use their words, fists, and the internet to do their dirty deeds. Millions of kids are bullied each year and not much seems to be working to heal this terrible social problem.
Bullies prey on smaller, weaker kids; that’s a known fact. Apparently, overpowering another person makes them feel big and strong. Bullies are both male and female and so are their victims. When bullies attack, it causes their victims to feel afraid, lonely, and depressed. Bullying is not just a childhood problem; its negative effects can cast long, dark shadows far into the victim’s and the bully’s futures.
Many victims, if not healed, grow up to be fearful adults with many issues and low self-esteem. Many bullies, if not helped, grow up to be criminals. It’s a tragic dance.
There will always be bullies in the world, so it’s best to teach your kids ahead of time how to handle them. Fortunately, there are two proactive ways to teach kids to be bully-proof: #1 Help them develop good self-esteem and confidence and #2 Teach them how to defend themselves.
Studying a martial art is one fast, effective way to accomplish both #1 and #2. For thousands of years, martial art students of every age have transformed themselves from weak and fearful into strong and brave people. It’s a wonderful self-improvement course!
Lots of kids start martial arts training after being threatened or harmed by a bully. By the time they arrive on our doorsteps, the bullied child and his parents are often desperate for help.
Learning to defend oneself against bullies, bad guys, and mean girls develops self-confidence in even the most timid, frightened child. When your children know in their hearts that they can defend themselves if they had to, they change into the kind of kid that bullies avoid. After all, they don’t want to tangle with kids that could beat them at their own game.
When martial arts students are taught blocks, kicks, punches, and self-defense techniques, they are encouraged to imagine using these moves on someone who is trying to harm them. More often than not, these “some ones” are the bullies at school or in their neighborhood. Once students are more advanced, they are taught how to spar or practice using these moves on other martial arts students. With time and repetition, they become amazing “little warriors.”
Teaching children how to fight is a controversial concept. Some people believe that such training will turn sweet kids into violent kids. I strongly disagree. I believe that quite the opposite happens. Self-defense training turns everyday kids into non-violent, capable children. I have been a black belt for nineteen years and have witnessed this transformation in hundreds of kids and adults.
When kids know they are able to defend themselves, a sense of peace and self-assurance takes root in their being. They stand taller, look people in the eye, and radiate self-confidence. I don’t know quite how or why that happens, but it does. It’s one of those mysteries of Life.
When it comes to dealing with bullies, this is what I suggest you do:
The first time a bully makes verbal contact with your child (calls names, swears at, degrades, or threatens), he or she should look the bully in the eye, say “Stop!” in a strong tone while doing the palm out “stop sign” with their hand. Don’t cry! (Bullies love it when they make someone cry.) Then run away and tell a trusted adult about the encounter.
The first time a bully makes physical contact with your child (hits, kicks, spits, trips, or shoves) he or she should make a lot of noise to attract attention, yell “help!” or “fire!”, run away when possible, and tell a trusted adult.
Role-playing verbal and physical attack scenarios with your child is a very good teaching tool that can be done at home.
The second time a bully makes physical contact with your child, tell him or her to fight back! Give your children permission to use physical force on a bully. Tell them to punch or kick like they mean it, make a lot of noise, call for help, run away when possible, and tell a trusted adult. Call and report the incident to the police, the school principal, and the bully’s parents. (Often times the bully’s parents are bullies, too!)
I doubt that there will be a third time if your child fought back the second time.
Twenty-two years ago my teenage daughter Amber was kidnapped by an armed stranger. She fought back and escaped and today is the mother of my two darling granddaughters. Yes, I am very much for teaching kids how to defend themselves, but I am not a violent person; quite the opposite. I am a very peaceful person, a peaceful warrior. But I do live by this rule: “Fight when you must. Create peace the rest of the time.”
May you live safely and happily ever after.