Six Tips to Deal with a Bully
If your child is being bullied at school, there is so little a parent can do, that we often feel helpless and powerless. Perhaps the school administration is aware but that 5 minute session in the guidance counselor’s office hasn’t done any good.
October is National Bully Defense Month and American Family Martial Arts has six simple tips to deal with a bully that you can discuss with your child.
#1: Speak strongly and firmly (tone of voice).
Practice saying things like, “leave me alone. What you say is NOT true.” Being able to say things like this comes from being confident. Confident that they are a worthy person and confident the other person is just being mean. A recognized confidence builder is sports, in particular martial arts. In the words of Boz Bowles, a father at American Family Martial Arts, who started training with his 2 sons due to a bullying issue, “One-time enemies on the playground have become some of [his] favorite playmates, and I believe this is due to the boost in self-confidence he has found through practicing karate.”
#2: Face the bully directly (body language, be confident).
The key to coming off poised and confident is all in your posture, author Barbara Pachter advises. “To stand confidently, keep your legs aligned with your shoulders and your feet approximately four to six inches apart. Distribute your weight equally on both legs, keep your shoulders back—but not way back—and turn your body towards others.” Never stand in a “submissive position” with your legs crossed, hands folded in front of you, or weight pressed down on one hip. At American Family Martial Arts students practice standing proud and strong in every class.
#3: Look straight in the bully’s eye (look up, not at the ground).
Martial Arts can help a child develop the confidence and practice of looking someone in the eye. Looking other students and adults in the eye is practiced everyday in our classes. Watch as this mom discusses how her Little Ninja defended himself from a park bully.
#4: Be calm (take a breath).
From a simple physiological stand point, getting oxygen to the brain helps with the thought process. Martial Arts helps increase proper breathing techniques with it’s focus on breathing. Whether it’s the controlled breath during a form or the breath needed for board breaking, regular practice of breathing techniques can be beneficial. That way when a child is in a stressful situation, they don’t have to think about taking a deep breath, they just do it.
And keep in mind, their words are just air. You only give them power by believing them. If someone calls you a 3 toed sloth-that doesn’t make it true does it?
#5: Prepare: imagine yourself turning and walking away.
Dr. Lori Evans of the NYU Child Study Center says working with your child to develop some coping strategies ahead of time can be helpful. For instance what to do if they get tearful when someone says something mean to them. One idea is to have the child think really hard about something else and not focus on that word. Think instead of something silly like orange bananas or purple people eaters. Practice with your child at home in private where he or she feels safe. Depending on the age, they could draw a picture of their silly distraction so they have a visual image to keep in mind. (or they can tuck into their backpack like a talisman.)
#6: Become a student at American Family Martial Arts!
Sports are known to be a confidence booster and at American Family Martial Arts there are no bench warmers. Everyone plays all the time! We also focus on confidence building and proper breathing techniques is a common part of our classes. And after all, if you can break a board, what can the bully do to you?
American Family Martial Arts Bully FREE programs help arm your child with strategies to deal with bullies.