Bullying and Martial Arts: The Healthy Answer to Big Problem

(First Taekwondo) You send you child off to school or play without giving it a second thought, but next to parents’ fears of having a child kidnapped, there’s a cruel world awaiting her the moment she leaves the safety of your home. It’s heavily populated by bullies using frightening tactics to exert power.

Obviously, you can’t tether yourself to your child, but you can arm him with tools he needs to stand up to bullies with confidence: martial arts techniques. We call it the healthy answer to a growing problem and here’s the best part of mastering martial skills: once a child gains the confidence to stand up for herself, she may never have to put learned physical moves into practice.

About bullies’ tactics
When the American Psychological Association conducted a study in 2015 called “Bullying: What We Know Based On 40 Years of Research,” scientists couldn’t have known that the problem would grow exponentially worse over the past four years. Instances of harassment against adults and children are on the rise (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/05/bullying-research.aspx).

Adults develop coping mechanisms to deal with bullies, says Communications Coach Preston Ni, writing for “Psychology Today” magazine (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201611/8-keys-handling-adult-bullies). They include seeking help, keeping one’s distance from bullies, learning not to be reactive or intimidated and acquiring techniques for compelling respect.

Easier said than done, say folks cowed by bullies, and children who haven’t the wherewithal to understand or apply self-defense tactics are particularly vulnerable. As a result, confrontations can be doubly frightening—-but fortunately, there are tools to help your youngster cope. One of the best is adopting martial arts techniques, so whether you’ve tried other methods and failed, or your journey is just beginning, you’ll want to consider this solution.

This training helps kids stand up for themselves
The post has been hanging around for a few years, but Karl Romain’s “Huffington Post” essay titled “3 Ways Martial Arts Helps Bully-Proof Your Child” is one of the best tutorials on the topic we’ve read. As an instructor, Romain has worked with kids for years, so he knows what he’s talking about. He even wrote the definitive book on the topic: “The Self-Confidence Factor: A Parent’s Guide to Bully Prevention.”

Take his word for it: You can put into place measures that help turn the tide, whether a child is entering kindergarten or middle school. Adopt these four principles and see how steadily things begin to change, even before you enroll your youngster in self-defense classes:

-Open lines of communication so your child feels comfortable talking to you about being bullied.
-Share your own past experience about being bullied so she doesn’t feel isolated and alone.
-Try role playing, setting up scenarios in which you help your child learn to respond to bullying.
-Show your concern by suggesting a martial arts class that can help him learn to exude confidence.

5 Ways Eastern combat techniques help children stand up to bullies
1. Kids learn to assume physical postures that tell bullies they’re messing with the wrong kid: body straight; eyes focused; feet firmly planted.
2. Children learn the art of breathing. It helps them stay calm and composed when bullies threaten.
3. Yes, your child can learn to control his fear under extreme circumstances.
4. While gaining confidence, your child learns to relate to others in better ways.
5. Even your child’s vocabulary improves: she can learn words that diffuse situations before they escalate.

Techniques go beyond helping kids feel confident
We don’t have to tell you that you’re raising a child in a world filled with strife. Demanding jobs. Financial pressure. Social pressures, too. The impact of these sociological pressures contributes to a rise in harassment and there’s not much you can do to change it. But once your little one takes his first Karate, Kung Fu or Tae Kwon Do class, you’re going to see changes in the way he or she behaves and responds.

He’s going to feel more comfortable in his own skin; more self-assured. Knowing he can defend himself in any situation serves as only a backup action that doesn’t need to be on display to show the world he is prepared to take care of himself. Children who study these skills learn early coping skills, hone leadership abilities and carry with them a sense of self-empowerment that prepares them for anything life throws their way.

It’s not just for boys
If you’re sitting on the fence about turning your little girl into the cutest Ninja on the block, rethink that. Girls can benefit more from this kind of training than boys, and the younger a girl is when exposed to self-defense techniques, the more prepared she will be for future, negative confrontations (https://blog.centurymartialarts.com/martialarts/-raising-empowered-daughters-with-martial-arts).

Girls face unique challenges that may include body image issues and the potential of sexually-related threats down the road, so they get double the benefits of boys if they learn early to become stewards of their bodies. Confidence? You may not believe your eyes when you see your child stand up straight, walk confidently and show the world they’re not going take this behavior lying down. You’re going to be proud!

Picking the right Eastern combat method for your child
If life offered guarantees, you would never have to second guess how your child will react to new schools and experiences. You don’t know which of the many self-defense programs is right for your youngster until you realize that these disciplines are personality-driven. Knowing your kid inside-out will help you identify a program that fits, say trainers at ActivityHero.com (http://blog.activityhero.com/kids-martial-arts-guide/#sthash.Pdpi7V9F.dpbs).

Not sure where your youngster fits? Enroll him in a mixed program so he samples a variety of styles. Talk to other parents to get insights when you visit local training schools. They’ll share tips based on their own search for the right discipline. And don’t be surprised when you discover how many of them brought their children to martial arts classes because, like you, they sought ways to help them cope with bullying, too.

Jolene Rheault

Jolene works as a marketing professional but full-time as a mom. She lives in Highlands Ranch, CO with her 7-year-old son, husband, 2 cats, and a bearded dragon named Jerry.

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