Many of us remember what it was like to be bullied when we were younger. All those nights spent crying because someone would always steal your lunch, or those mornings when you dreaded going to school, just so you wouldn’t have to face being called names again. Being bullied is a traumatizing experience and has the capacity to have a lasting influence on a child.
Here are the cold, hard facts:
- Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
- Physical bullying increases in elementary school, peaks in middle school and declines in high school.
- 1 out of 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying.
According to the Coalition Against Bullying for Children and Youth and Bully-Free Campaign Singapore:
- 1 out of 8 children are bullied on a weekly basis in Singapore.
- 4 out of 35 children are repeatedly being bullied by their peers.
What is bullying?
Bullying is defined as unwelcome behavior among school-age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. A powerful bully intentionally harms someone who is weaker through repeated hurtful behaviors that could result in damaging consequences.
Studies show that bullying has a serious negative impact on a child’s life and development. They may find it more difficult than others to adjust, have a low psychological well-being, face psychological distress and are almost always physically unwell.
How do I bully-proof my child?
1) Teach them self-confidence.
Children who grow up with low self-esteem are often more prone to bullying. Giving them the confidence to deal with and avoid physical aggression will most certainly increase their self-esteem. This confidence can be developed by learning martial arts. Not only will a child learn the skills necessary to neutralize an attack, but also how to avoid conflict.
2) Build trust.
The easiest way to build trust is by showing your child that you want to be an active part of his or her life. Stay connected and keep lines of communication open all the time. Ensure them that you are always there for them, no matter how trivial their problems may seem. If you have an open relationship with your child, the less likely he or she will be bullied.
3) Ensure that they grow up in a compassionate, loving home.
This is probably one of the most effective ways to prevent your child from being bullied and becoming a bully himself. Remember, children are very impressionable and often act out what they see at home. If your discipline methods include shaming or hitting, there may be a chance that they will do the same to others. Make sure that your child grows up in a loving home that disciplines with compassion.
4) Teach them basic bully-avoidance.
Since bullying often occurs when adults aren’t present, teach your child to avoid potential situations where they know bullying could occur. Sitting at the front of the bus or hurrying to the classroom when the bell rings could substantially minimize contact with bullies.
5) Encourage them to learn basic self-defense.
Self-defense means exactly what it does — defending yourself against an attacker. For children, learning how to deal with confrontation without the use of physical aggression is paramount. This not only prevents the child from becoming a bully himself, but also gives them an enhanced sense of responsibility by giving them the ability to take control of the situation until help arrives.
Unfortunately, most children continue to tolerate bullying despite the havoc it wreaks on their lives. Thus, with some very basic training in self-defense, many children’s lives can be vastly improved.
Through martial arts, violence and bullying can be dealt with by using non-violent techniques. Children will be taught to stand up for themselves and gain the confidence they need to take control of their lives and control bullies in a safe and proven manner.
Martial arts is possibly the best investment you can make in your children’s future!