Starting a new school year is an exciting time for many kids. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, learn new things, and tackle new challenges. But for many kids that are prone to bullying, starting a new school year can be a stressful experience. According to recent studies, one in three children will experience some form of bullying in their lifetime.
As parents, we want to do everything we can to protect our kids, but realistically, we can’t always be by their side. So, what steps can you take to bully-proof your kid?
Experts have long agreed that enrolling a child in martial arts can dramatically decrease how frequently a child is bullied. In fact, a recent study suggests that training in the martial arts can decrease the likelihood of bullying by up to 64%.
Encourage An Open Line Of Communication
As parents, it can be challenging to help our kids work through an encounter with a bully, especially if we don’t know about it. Kids will often feel embarrassed to admit they are being bullied, which is why establishing an open line of communication is so important. When kids feel it’s ok to talk to you about their experience with a bully, they are more likely to talk to other authority figures as well such as a school counselor. Sometimes, simply reporting the incident can resolve a problem with a bully before it becomes a long-term issue.
Martial arts teaches kids to confidently advocate for themselves. In fact, the best martial arts programs stress the importance of using a strong voice to stop a run-in with a bully before it can escalate. Avoiding a physical altercation is always the best bet.
Help Them Develop More Confidence
What makes some kids an easy target? Put simply, bullies tend to target individuals who they believe won’t fight back. They look for body language such as crossed arms, rounded shoulders, and lack of eye contact to identify insecure individuals who can be easily controlled or victimized. Experts agree that kids with high self-esteem and confidence are less likely to get bullied.
Building confidence through the martial arts is a great way to keep bullies at bay. Every martial arts class your kid attends is an opportunity to prove to themselves that they are strong and capable of greatness. Sparring drills encourage focusing and performing under pressure which is another great way to develop unshakable confidence. As they earn new belt ranks and learn more challenging techniques, their view of themselves and what they are capable of will shift and you will begin to see an outward demonstration of your kid becoming bully-proof.
Surround Them With Good Friends
It’s well known that bullies tend to seek out kids who lack community or are isolated. This is because it’s much easier to take advantage of and control a single kid rather than a group of kids. Also, fewer witnesses mean less of a likelihood that the bully will be identified and reprimanded.
When it comes to standing up to bullies, there’s always strength in numbers. If your kid is struggling to make new friends at school, enrolling them in a martial arts program is a great way to introduce them to new friends with similar mindsets. When it comes to making new friends, quality is more important than quantity. Even having just one significant friend at school can greatly reduce the likelihood that your kid will be bullied.
Have Them Learn Age-Appropriate Self-Protection Skills
Even though we always advocate for walking away from a bully, we also understand that there may come a time when that’s just not possible. In this case, it’s important for kids to understand how to appropriately defend themselves from a physical attack.
We often get asked: “what is the best self-defense move?” As you can imagine, it’s challenging to narrow it down to just one. When it comes to kids who are being bullied, verbal assertiveness should always be the first course of action. If this approach proves to be unsuccessful at deescalating the situation, non-violent self-defense techniques are the next best thing. This is because, typically, punching and kicking the bully back will do more harm than good. Instead, kids can learn leverage-based control holds to neutralize the threat without leaving a mark.
Role-playing common scenarios (such as being pushed or grabbed) during martial arts class will give your kid the confidence they need to know they are equipped to defend themselves should the need arise.
Ready to help your kid become bully-proof? Try a FREE training session at Invictus! Which class below are you most curious about?
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