THIS WEEK: How to make your child bullyproof, bullying self defence, kids martial arts and self defence in Leicester.
As a parent I know that you want to always be there to protect your kids from harm. The reality however is that they are out there for most of the day in shark infested waters navigating their way through life. There are unfortunately many harmful things that could happen to your kids – they could fall prey to sexual predators, kidnappers, drugs and a whole host of other things. Though you should have a response plan for all of these they are far less prevalent than the one biggest killer of your child’s confidence. BULLYING! Bullying at school is responsible for absences, childhood anxiety and even suicide, and you don’t always know about it.
You only have to turn on the news, pick up a paper or open your social media feed to see disgusting acts of violence and bullying against young people. For ‘Bullying Awareness Month’ I was going to write about understanding the bully’s mind and anti-social Vs. asocial violence. However a mother who enrolled her son into our new beginners ‘LIONS Leadership Martial Arts & Self Defence Empowerment’ program said that she would like to know what kids could do to prevent bullying in response to me sharing an article on our facebook page about young boy who took his own life after being bullied.
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR CHILD BULLYPROOF
TIP 1 -The ‘chuck it away trick’ – we all know the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’, this is not true. Words hurt! When those words are repeated over and over at school and your child hears the same name calling and hurtful things said about them it KILLS their confidence. It is the enemy of a child’s self-esteem. This doesn’t just hurt them in the moment but can hurt them for ever if they internalise the insults. For this reason it’s important to have a strategy in place and teach your kids how to protect their feelings – this is a vital life skill that we teach on the LIONS Leadership Martial Arts course because it prepares young people to take control of their emotional safety for life.
Through our LIONS Life Skills Power Chats we teach kids something called the ‘Chuck It away Trick’. This uses metaphors, physical action and verbal understanding to really drive the message home and empower your kids (after all, kids learn best through fun and by physically engaging in an activity, that’s the key to the success of our LIONS Leadership Martial arts course and its ability to teach confidence and character lessons for success so well).
- (Pre-frame metaphor) To teach this explain to your child that we like to eat nice, tasty food that smells and looks good – but food that tastes bad, looks horrible or is dirty we should throw away. “we would never eat that stinky food right? Where does that food go – in out tummy or in the bin?” they will say the bin. Say “exactly, because we don’t let things that are bad for us into our body, we throw them away – words are the same – there are good words and there are bad words. We can let nice, good words in and throw the bad, horrible words away that make us unhappy”
- (Physical metaphor) Once they understand the above, move onto a physical metaphor, practice having them hear negative words, catching them, crushing them, and throwing them into an imaginary dustbin.
- (Verbal self-affirmation) Have them replace the bad words with a kind word to themselves. Give them some power words to use and practice saying them every day. We use AM’ words such as ‘I am Awesome’, ‘I am Loved’, ‘I am Safe’, ‘I am courageous’, ‘I am Confident’, ‘I am a good friend to myself’ etc.
TIP 2 – The Power of Presence – A study showed that people were more likely to be targets of violence if their posture and presence seemed under confident. Teach your Children to SHINE WITH CONFIDENCE.
Show them the difference between a friendly assertive walk and a shy timid walk. Have them walk around the room first as if they are shy and then as if they are the most confident person in the world. Then get them to take it to the next level, SUPER HERO LEVEL, give them prompts like ‘straight back’, ‘big smile’ etc. Give them positive praise and then ask them to reel it back down to a level 7. Explain that a level 7 is the confidence level that they should walk with at all times. Like Clark Kent before he takes off the glasses.
TIP 3 – The Exit – In the Karate Kid (yes I am referencing the karate kid) Miyagi said ‘best defence, not be there’ this is called TARGET DENIAL. Teach your children that they don’t have to stand and listen to someone if they are being mean, they have the power to choose to leave. Explain to them that they can take that confidence level from 7 to 10 and walk away. That’s their Super Power.
Explain to them that stepping out of the dinner line or changing seats in class or moving to another table is the best way, sit with buddies not bullies.
TIP 4 – Don’t cross this line – We teach kids to set boundaries both physically and verbally. There are a few ways to do this, ill share one with you in each category.
- Active Stance – this is where your child standing and brings their hands up with their palms facing forward almost as if making a stop gesture. This is a non-confrontational non aggressive posture that is disarming while at the same time giving your child a tactical advantage if they need to use physical self-defence.
- Verbal Boundary – this has 3 pays 1. Point out the behaviour 2. Say what you want instead 3. Give a consequence. Eg. “what you said is mean, its bullying – I want you to stop right now – or else I will tell the teacher
Practice doing this with your kids, get them to use an assertive, non-aggressive, voice. If the other child doesn’t stop, tell your child to follow through with the consequence, if they don’t then the bully will know this to be an empty threat and continue the undesired behaviour.
TIP 5 – GET HELP – Teachers are very well meaning and most often very helpful. However they usually have 30 kids to look after while marking, teaching, prepping, planning, a million other things and breathing. Sometimes they don’t take a complaint on board and dismiss it as ‘classroom banter’ or ‘childishness’. Teach your children to speak in a way that commands attention from the teacher and in a way that conveys the seriousness of the problem.
This has 3 parts – 1. Say you have a safety problem, 2. Explain the problem 3. Explain steps you took to solve it eg. I have a safety problem – the girls over there came over and started pushing me – I asked them to stop and moved away but they followed me.
Explain to your kids that sometimes adults are busy or don’t pay attention. Rehearse scenarios with them where they tell you the above and you are pretending to be busy. Explain that they should say it again and tell the teacher that they really need help. They are allowed to be persistent.
BONUS TIP – Empower your child with self-defence. I am an advocate for peaceful resolutions and prevention however self-defence is vital. When you are hungry you need food, when you are thirsty you need water and when you are attacked you need self-defence; NOTHING ELSE WILL DO!
When looking for a martial arts class for your child you need to take certain things into consideration other than the usual (is the instructor qualified, DBS checked, has a provable history etc.). These things are –
- Does the instructor have any training in reality self-defence? Traditional or competition martial arts alone are not enough. Trust me, I have done 20 years of traditional martial arts in various styles, attained black belts in 3 styles and have won world golds for England in sports martial arts; but none of that taught me anything about reality self-defence (just being honest with you). Myself and some instructors spend ample time studdying reality self defence to bring into our classes.
- Is that reality self-defence age appropriate? By this I don’t mean if the classes are split into age groups; rather I mean is the curriculum age adaptive. After all a 5 year old is at a different key stage of development to a 15 year old and would come up against a very different attack, their ability to defend would also be very different. The class needs to have age adapted skills to best serve your child.
- What is the teachers qualification to teach about violence? Good instructors who are teaching martial arts for self-defence will be going on courses to understand the psychology of bullying etc. to develop themselves and serve students on the highest level. This is one of the reasons I completed my degree in psychology with a focus on forensics and violence.
- Fighting alone isn’t enough, a class should have a character building program. Many people are fooled by the buzz words like ‘confidence’ etc. on martial arts school websites – but you need to assess if kids are just expected to gain this as a bi-product of praise and achievement or if there is an actual character program.
- What is the instructors qualification to teach character development.
If you need any help finding a suitable class for your child then I am happy to help you research schools in your local area – my goal is to help empower kids with high quality self-defence and martial arts even if they don’t come to my class. My personal phone number is 07452 924496, I’m happy to help.
For those of you who are in Leicester, if you would like to come along to one of our beginner classes then we would love to see you and make you feel right at home. Your child’s first step towards safety and success starts by stepping into the room. (Click here to get the NEW STARTERS OFFER – 2 FREE weeks + Free Uniform + Free Membership + Free Belt + Free Leadership Journal = (Total est. Value: £97.50) (only £25 a month after that with a 90 day ‘you don’t love it you don’t pay’ guarantee)
In the next segment I will share what action you can take (and more importantly what action you shouldn’t take) if your child is being bullied.
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