9 strategies to be prepared for bullies
Bullies target the unprepared, the weaker of the herd, the one that looks to be the easy target. But with some easy discussions and techniques, you can give your child the tools to know how to deal with bullying before it happens. How to avoid certain areas, staying safe, and how to stand up to bullies meaning that your child is less likely to become a target.
Most people think self defence is about hitting back. But self defence is about so much more than hitting or striking another person. It involves listening to your gut, using confident voices, being aware of your surroundings, and being environmentally smart.
So what are 9 simple strategies your child can adopt to help themselves against school bullies?
1. Look confident, be confident
Having a healthy self-esteem and walking with confidence is one way to prevent bullying. Walk tall, using good posture. Head up, shoulder back, positive steps. Make eye contact with those you see and project self-confidence.
Bullies are looking for the weak and easy to target kid. Slouching and averting your eyes, looking at the ground all are signs that make you appear weak. Parents should work on these techniques with their kids. Remind them even if they are not feeling confident to walk like they are.
2. Trust your instincts
A primary lesson of all self defence is being aware of your surroundings. Put your cell phone away and have your head up and on a swivel. Teach your child to be aware of what is going on around them. Tell them to trust their instincts, usually, they are right. Is there a group of boys milling around the corner? Is there a strange car at the bus stop? Is there someone watching your every move? Does something make your stomach a bit nervous?
By being aware of what is happening around them your child can actively avoid being bullied or attacked.
3. Use your voice
Your voice is one of the most powerful defensive tools you have. A powerful, confident, and assertive voice will often diffuse a lot of situations. Practice with your child talking in a strong assertive voice at home. When faced with a bully they can then easily adopt this voice to dissuade them.
4. Noise is good
Remember what we said about your voice, it is your best defence. Make sure your child knows it is ok to make noise. Especially when someone is threatening them or trying to hurt them. A strong voice that is being yelled will attract attention. This will in turn scare off a lot of bullies as the noise is more likely to attract an adult or teacher.
5. Escape is best
Make sure your child understands that walking away is ok and in most cases the best thing to do. Just turn around and walk away. Stress to your child that it takes more courage to walk away than stay and fight. As we always say in our classes and workshops. “Where is the best to be in a fight? ” “Not there!!”
6. Know your exits
Sometimes your child will be unable to easily get away from a bully. They should know to look for exits. Look for a way out to escape and when the right option presents itself make a break for it.
7. Stay with the herd
Bullies like isolation. They look to isolate the weak from the pack so if your child stays with their friends and knows the best places to go in groups they lower the chances of being bullied. What if they don’t have a group of friends to hang out with? Work with them to develop friendships. Even one friend can go a long way to preventing bullying.
8. Learn some self defence in a class
One of the best things you can do is enroll your child in a self-defence class or martial arts class. Not only will your child learn how to defend themselves but also confidence and self-control. Being able to respond to a bully calmly and confidently can often stop any escalation of a situation from verbal to physical.
9. How to, what-ifs
You certainly do not want to encourage your child to fight but they must know that they have the right to protect themselves if attacked. How could they block a punch, deal with someone grabbing them on the arm? What about a group attack? These are all strategies they can learn from self defence classes or courses.
Be sure to stress that using their voice and walking away is always the preferred option. Be prepared as well that in most cases both the bully and the victim of the physical bullying will be suspended by a school. It helps your child to deal with and understand the potential outcomes of situations so they can make appropriate choices.
Overall, having your child know some basic strategies of how to identify and deal with bullies is an important set of lessons you can pass on. Unfortunately in today’s world, it is likely they will encounter bullying at some stage in childhood. It is not about being afraid but simply being prepared.
It is a fine line we tread as parents between being motivational or pushy with our kids. How can we be supportive and help them when they hit an obstacle or are lacking that drive to succeed?
1 Take an interest
This is a great first step and it seems so obvious. Ask your child how their class was straight after it has finished. Was it fun, hard what were the highlights and so on. Try to avoid questions that will generate a one-word answer. Get them talking and engaging with you for ages after the class has ended. If you can watch their class and talk about the movements. Even play dumb, if need be, and get them to explain it to you. Be the student and get them to be the Sensei. Talk about how great they looked during the partner work in class or how that kick they have been working on looked fantastic. You must let them know you noticed their hard work and you can see them getting better and better.
2 Schedule practice time
If your child is struggling to practice at home it is time to make it more engaging. Get them to show you something they learned in class, or get them to teach you. This is a fun way to learn from a different angle. For the kids that love media film them on your phone and look back at their practice with hem. Use this to pinpoint things they could focus on when the practice. “See your knee, lift it a bit higher. Doesn’t Sensei say that makes you kick easier?” You know your child better than anyone so use their interests to create fun at home practice experiences anytime.
3 Table talk
The dinner table provides you with a great space to ask about life skill values that have been talked about in class and what they mean. Use this time to reinforce the principles. Bring up keywords, ask for examples. Show your child how these values have a place not only at the dojo but in all aspects of their lives.
Kids are curious little beings. They like to look and experience many different things. Which sometimes makes it difficult for them to stick at one thing. It is important though to instil the value of commitment. If your child reaches a point in their martial arts journey where they have to miss some classes, or even quit altogether, this is a great time to have a chat about why. Use this time to share with them the value of commitment. Do they want to skip class because they don’t enjoy it as much as something else? Or is it something else that can be easily remedied?
5 Don’t compare
Everyone learns at different speeds. Everyone has different physical and sometimes mental limitations. It is important that if your child discusses their efforts in comparison to others that you stress these facts. Redirect the conversation to the positivity around themselves and how they did. Frustrations and disappointments may occur, this is normal. This is part of life. Talk to your child about the root of their frustration and calmly help them to create a positive relationship with their feelings.
6 You are not alone
Sometimes the martial arts world can seem daunting. Especially if you have never done anything like that yourself. But don’t forget you are not alone. Speak with other parents. Form training groups to instil fun practice. Set up playdates with outside of class. Take full advantage of the support system in place at the club. Query the instructors on anything to do with training, motivation etc
7 One size does not fit all
Please do not forget this. What works for one child will not necessarily work for another. The instructors at your school know this oh too well. You have to find the balance between being supportive but pushy. Given the option, the couch is usually the preference. So step up and make them do something and then use this to build them up.
I have never heard anyone complain about being pushed and getting their black belt. Never once. However many students have needed motivation and a push now and then to get there. Work together with your child when challenges arise. Tread the line carefully and watch them flourish.
Grading is coming up and it can be a nervous time for students and parents. What is going to happen? How will my child do? Will I pass? I am not good enough? ahhh I made a mistake!! I can’t do it!!!
For our younger students who are part of the Little Dragons programme, it is important to understand that grading and receiving their belt is more about recognition of the effort and confidence to get up in front of instructors and everyone else and perform to the best of their ability. It is about saying all that hard work they put in class during the cycle has paid off rather than getting exact technique on the day.
Yes we want them to perform the curriculum requirements on the day but due to the varying development stages of children from 5 – 7 yrs it is natural some students will simply perform better than others. This is ok. Remember it is not about exact performance. It is about them trying and giving their best effort on the day, they need to step up and perform on the day to pass.
Reinforce to your child in the lead up and simply encourage them to perform to the best of their ability without comparing themselves to others. This will enable them to feel competent without feeling out of their depth.
Grading is all about showing real praise to the efforts the child makes and the process they follow that leads to the result. Praise the hard work a child did in preparing for the grading and how they diligently worked on areas that they knew were difficult for them.
Should they practice? Yes.
Should they have their stripes showing they could do the technique? Absolutely.
Should they be expected to try really hard and participate? Totally.
Do we expect them to have exact technique and perfection? Nope.
Do we want to see them TRY? 100% Yes.
I hope this helps pre-frame how we view our Little Dragon gradings and how you can help your child prepare for the big day. Any questions just ask.