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Innovative Martial Arts
15-1599 Dugald Rd
Winnipeg, MB
204-505-2787
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Bullying

Was confidence / bullying a problem last school year?

The school year is over, and unfortunately for many kids that means relief, a break from problems with other kids.

It might be easy to take this time and breath a sigh of relief for the 2-months break, but September will come all too fast for kids that have had problems with bullies and confidence at school.

With this break from the things that drag kids confidence down in school it is the perfect time to build it up.

For the next 2-months there is a opportunity for all the kids that experienced confidence and bullying issues to take 10 steps forward, without being dragged 9 steps back.

Think about it, if you had a leaky roof that was causing you problems and you knew that you had 2-months of dry weather ahead would you breath a sigh of relief and ignore the issue until the next rain, or take the opportunity to patch the roof up (which is much easier to do when it's not raining)?

It is far easier to deal with things when they are not in a problem state then when you are dealing with everything head on at the same time.

So if your child had problems last year in school, now is the best time to get them involved in something that will help them address those issues before having to go back to them. Martial arts is one that I feel very strongly for and have seen make a world of difference for many kids, but it's not the only option. There are so many great camps, leadership building activities and other options available to kids that there is something for everyone.

That said keep the issue in mind when looking for a solution. If the issue is social (confidence, bullying, group behaviour, etc) the solution needs to be social as well. A child with trouble interacting with peers is not going to solve that through individual activities where they do not have to interact with peers.

Bullying

Bullying pt 1: What is Bullying?

Bullying is a subject that comes up far too often, and I've been fortunate enough to attend workshops with some of the top experts on the subject in North America. So hopefully this will be helpful to some of the parents out there. This is a pretty big subject, and one that I am going to split into a series of posts rather then one massive one.

The unfortunate truth is the problem is one that often goes unreported.  Part of that is failing to recognize what it is, and that there are ways to deal with it.  4 out of 5 cases of bullying go unreported to teachers / parents and everyone.

First, it is important to define what it is we mean when we say "bullying", there are other behaviours that sometimes get confused with bullying, but bullying is a defined sort of behaviour. This is important as how we handle and teach children to handle these different sorts of problems varies as well.

For something to be considered bullying it must be both intentional and repetitive. The behaviour must be aggressive, and with a (real or perceived) unequal balance of power.

Bullying can be physical, but it is mostly psychological.

Bullying behaviours is an attempt to take power from others, building themselves through knocking others down. It includes things such as:

  • Hurting others feelings
  • Public humiliation
  • Spreading rumours / gossip
  • Name calling
  • physically hurting them
  • etc.

Someone who is annoying, but unintentionally is not using bullying behaviour.   With younger kids especially some have a hard time keeping hands to themselves, or respecting other boundaries.  But without intent, it is not "bullying" and requires a different approach.

If someone is intentionally rude, but without consistence and repetitive behaviour this is also not bullying.  Bullying requires deliberate and repetitive behaviour designed to harm others.

Kids often don't want to talk about being bullied, and find it embarrassing and shameful.  The things that receiving that sort of treatment tend to invoke.   This can often result in behaviour that comes across as disrespectful or acting out.  Faking sick, not wanting to do anything with a group, self isolating behaviour, talking back, etc.

In fact a lot of bullies where once victims of bullying, and the bullying behaviour becomes a way of trying to take back the power that was taken from them.

It is important to remember that people that bully aren't necessarily bad people.  They are often people that are hurting and lacking real confidence.  They attempt to coup with this through pushing others down to make themselves feel bigger.

It provides a short term and immediate sense of power, but it doesn't help with real happiness.  Once bullying becomes a habit it is like an addiction, it is hard for them to have true friends and hold onto relationships that matter, and as they transition into adult head it will be hard to hold a job.  Bullying behaviour is an addiction, it hurts the people around the bully, but it also hurts them.

That is in a nut shell what bullying is, and is not.  Stay tuned for part 2 and we can start looking at how to deal with bullying.

Bullying

Confidence: A Cure for Bullying

Stop Bullying

First published in the Fall / Winter edition of Family-TLC Magazine

Unfortunately back-to-school means back-to-bullying for far more children than any of us like to admit.  Bullying is a very real problem but, fortunately there is a solution.

Bullies target those that are easiest to bully, and the easiest target is the child lacks confidence and is least likely to stand up for themselves.  Unfortunately this is a hard thing to do for most kids, or even adults for that matter.

So the key is confidence; a person that is confident is far less likely to be targeted by a bully.  A child that can verbally, and if necessary, physically stand up for themselves is going to be more trouble for a bully who is looking to boast their own confidence at the expense of others.

So how do you help your child become bully proof?

  1. Praise everything.  Children hear far more negative statements then positive.  "Don’t do this", "Don’t touch that", "keep quiet", etc. The general rule coaches learn is 3 positive statements for every negative one.  This is a good rule to carry out of the gym or off the field as well.  If your child is constantly being told they are good, and doing amazing they will become what they are told and gain the confidence of it.  To strengthen this effect, surround your child with other people and put them in activities where they will hear those same things from other sources.  The more different places they are hearing positive statements the stronger the effect.However the goal is not to simply praise for the sake of praising, it needs to be specific towards what you are trying to encourage.  Praise effort, attentiveness, focus and other traits you want to develop.
  2. Teach them "Verbal Judo".   Must bullying can be stopped through words, saying the right thing at the right time.  Calling the bully on his statements and actions, making them hold responsibility for their actions.  Simply having the confidence to ask the bully to stop, or asking them why they are doing what they are doing.Speaking confidently and saying the right thing can make all the difference, both with bullies and in life.
  3. Teach them to help others.   Little things add up, and realizing that they have the ability to help others is a big part of being a confident person.  Teach them to open doors, help with the yard work, and volunteer in the community with you.  Lead by example and remember to thank them for what they do, even if it is small.Another great way to do this is have them working with younger kids in some regard.  The act of "teaching" others not only improves their knowledge of what they are teaching, but also builds their confidence in themselves.
  4. Give them the physical skills.  With bullies the ultimate threat is being beat up.  Bullies use the threat of violence as a way to keep power over others.  If that threat doesn’t frighten your child because they understand how to defend themselves. If they know, without question, through direct and repeated experience, that they are capable of protecting themselves. That they can control a bigger, stronger and older opponent because they do so every week against bigger, stronger and older (but less experienced) kids in a martial arts class, they will have the confidence in how they respond verbally because that fear won’t be there.

Martial Arts is only part of the answer though.  It can teach them to be physically stronger and confident in their ability to defend themselves.  It can teach them to stand in front of a class and perform.  But the real secret lies in the way the child is taught, not just in a martial arts gym, but everywhere they interact with leaders.

It’s also never too early to start, don’t wait until your child is a victim to teach them how not to be one.  A confident child is not only bully proof, but primed for being unstoppable in whatever they do.

Andrew Green is head coach at Innovative Martial Arts and can be reached at 204-505-2787, or through http://innovativema.ca