If you have school aged children, then you know the statistics; 17% of students are bullied, more than once a month. It doesn’t really matter how old you are, where you go to school, what color you are, or where you live; bullies are everywhere. So it’s time to be smart and help your kids learn the tools and tactics that work to prevent bullying.
Bullying can be physical, verbal, or the cyber version. Thankfully there are some tools you can help your kids put into place to avoid, prevent and cope with bullying, in all its forms. Here are ten things you can teach your kids to do when they’re being bullied.
1. Teach them to get help immediately
Schools take bullying very seriously. Don’t hesitate when your kid is experiencing any form of verbal or physical bullying. Take it to someone (a teacher or counselor) who can do something about it right away. The sooner the better.
2. Help them write it down
Write down who, when and how. If it happens repeatedly, make sure to document the details. This will help later when you seek help.
3. Teach them to keep their body strong
Exercise not only helps your kids burn off stress, but staying strong, flexible and active will help build confidence and keep your kids more able to respond to a physical attack from a bully. Consider exploring some training in the martial arts as a way to teach your kids the physical conditioning and the self-defense moves that will help prevent bullying.
4. Teach them to buddy up
Teach your kids not to go at this alone. Help them find a friend, or better yet, a group of friends, possibly even others you’ve noticed have been bullied, and create a group that will outnumber any bully that comes your way.
5. Help them up-level their mental game
Bullies prey on kids in many ways, one of which is making them feel inferior. There’s a complex psychology going on here, but staying mentally aware, positive, confident, and strong goes a long way to making sure bullies don’t get the best of your kid. Martial arts practice will not only keep your kids physically strong…it will help them up-level their mental game, improve self-esteem and confidence, and give them the mental and emotional tools to stand up to bullies.
6. Help them save any evidence
Consider helping your kids record any verbal threats or bullying and/or take screen-shots of any cyber bullying. Bullies are much less likely to continue their attacks when they realize they are being seen and heard by authority figures. The more evidence you have, the more you’ll be able to stop the bullying.
7. Teach them how to be a leader
Help your kids get involved, stand up for others and be out loud about bullying. Teach them to talk to an adult, encourage others to do the same and build a community that is aware and active when it comes to preventing bullying. They can write a letter or blog, share their ideas, and talk to their principal about bullying. Being a leader is empowering and it helps others!
8. Teach them to walk away
The quickest and most effective way to prevent a bully from hurting your kid physically or verbally is to teach them to walk away from the situation and find an adult. The sooner your kid walks away and finds a safe environment the better. Same goes for the internet. As soon as they read something that doesn’t feel right, they should find an adult and let them know.
9. Teach them to use their voice
Sometimes all we need to do is speak up with awareness, respect and calm. Teach your kid not to be afraid to use their voice or raise their voice if need be. Bullies don’t want to draw the attention of nearby adults so help your kid remember to speak up if they feel a threat. They can practice saying things like “Stop!” or “Help!” And help them not be afraid to scream it if they need to!
10. Help them learn self-defense skills
One of the best ways to avoid and deal with bullies is to learn how to cope physically and mentally with their attacks. While self-defense should be a last resort, a martial arts practice will help with all of the skills you need plus so much more. Training in the martial arts will help improve strength, flexibility, agility and endurance, as well as building self-esteem, confidence, awareness and self-control. Learning these kinds of skills will greatly reduce the likelihood of bullying and of any continued bullying by someone who tries it.
Remember that awareness, education and communication are the best tools we have against any problem like bullying. Bullying can’t survive when we step up as a community and fight it together, and we believe that martial arts is the best way to position our kids for success. Remember to have open and frequent conversations with your kids about bullying and to always act quickly when you see evidence of it.
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