1. Bullying requires specific strategies to overcome it
As a child who suffered from bullying in school, I know firsthand how difficult it is to deal with. I recall the feelings of humiliation and fear that I would experience as a result of being physically assaulted and taunted at school. It’s what drove me towards martial arts and self-defense training in the first place. However, in today’s world parents can learn and take certain precautions to ensure their child’s safety. For this reason, I’m going to write a short article giving a few tips on preventative measures to avoid your child being bullied in the first place, how to emotionally aid a child suffering from bullying and the role self-defense can play as well.
2. Talk to the school and do research on their bullying policies
The school your child attends goes a long way in stifling bullying or enabling it. Ineffective practices make bullies feel they can do what they want without repercussions. Also, policies that blame children for being victimized must be researched and understood. Naturally, schools won’t come out and say their policies do this but YOU must ask questions and use your best judgment to decide for YOURSELF. Please understood that many schools don’t properly know how to handle bullying and even worse some don’t want to take the time. They’ll give you their best pitch ensuring your child’s safety but the reality is it’s never a guarantee.
Have extensive talks with the school about how they handle a variety of situations to get a feel for how they respond. Asking questions will allow you to judge the school’s effectiveness for yourself. Questions like how do you investigate bullying claims made in the school? How do you deal with kids who repeatedly bully others? What’s your policy regarding students who act in self-defense? How have your teachers been trained to deal with bullying incidents that they witness and are reported to them? Etc. These questions are a point in the right direction towards yielding the types of answers that will either put you at ease or make you more worried. Be sure to listen carefully.
3. Build healthy self-esteem and get your kids comfortable with setting boundaries
When kids have the ability to speak up for themselves with confidence bullies are less likely to target them. Let’s face it, bullies are looking for people that will give them the least resistance to their abuse. They don’t seek out those that they know they can’t physically dominate and aren’t intimidated by them. So, teach your child how to set boundaries early and often. Get them comfortable with saying “no I don’t want to be spoken too like this”, “stop I’m going to tell a teacher if you don’t leave me alone”. These types of phrases give any bully the impression that this person won’t accept being bullied and is prepared.
4. Create a strong network of family, friends, and support.
Create a network of support around your child so they feel comfortable coming to you about issues happening at school. It’s important your children feel they can talk to you regarding their experiences at school without judgment. Take a special time to connect to your kids each day so that they can share how their day actually went. Yes, I put emphasis on ACTUALLY because kids have a tendency to give generic answers when asked about their day. Especially when they’re being bullied and begin to withdraw emotionally.
It’s also helpful to have other responsible adults your child interacts with that your child can go to for help. Growing up I had a number of family friends that always gave me great insights into my adolescent experience. Sometimes on certain matters, I’d talk to them about different matters to get a different perspective from what I’d usually get. This created a helpful environment where I had multiple people that gave me advice on topics.
5. Seek out quality self-defense training that provides confidence
Quality self-defense training provides an option for when you must physically defend yourself and have no options to run or otherwise escape. Self-defense is the last resort that must be used when you’re afraid for your safety and believe you’re going to be physically assaulted. A quality self-defense course will provide your child with the mental and physical skills to ensure they survive a physical assault. It should focus on engaging and stopping the bully’s attack and then immediately escaping to get help.
6. Final Thoughts
This article is not meant to be a conclusive guide for dealing with bullying. Obviously there’s a lot more to learn and put into practice about the subject. That said these strategies are a good start for any parent that’s concerned about ensuring their child’s safety. As adults, we all become busy with life but it’s important that you take the extra mile for your kid’s protection. It’s been my experience that all too often schools can be negligent when it comes to bullying.