How to Bully-Proof Your Child
by Sensei Martin Doherty, owner: Karate4KIDZ™ Team Canada KickSMART
Parents have a special responsibility in making sure that their children possess skills that can enable them to resolve conflicts peacefully. Children can go a long way in managing conflicts if they are taught personal relationships and problem solving mechanisms.
Often, children are prone to come to their parents for help when a bully in school harasses them. How parents advise their kids about dealing with a bully can fundamentally change what could potentially be a damaging experience to tormented kids. Bullying has becomes such a big issue today, it is often best that anti-bullying instruction and education be covered by someone who is well trained and is outside of the school system. And frankly, the school the child attends often has to be approached in the proper manner when bullying does occur. Over the years I have spoken to many, many schools who deny bullying take place at their school; yet the parents and children of these same schools often show up in my class because of bullying issues they have. By and far, I am sure most schools take bullying seriously, it is just important that YOU as the PARENT and your child have the proper tools to better understand and deal with the issue.
By and large, a bully is one who has behavioral and emotional disorders. It is typical for a bully to have a low self-esteem. In order to gain attention among peers, a bully has to put down someone. It is significant to communicate to children some of the characteristics of a bully so that they can better deal with such personalities. Understanding goes a long way in helping children understand what bullying is and how to recognize it - in others and with themselves.
Listening is the key. When kids come home and complain about being bullied, parents must listen in order to get a clear picture of the situation. It is good to find out if the child is receiving physical or verbal attack so that parents can determine if they should get involved in resolving the conflict or let the child deal with it.
If parents choose to let their kids face bullies (and this should ONLY be done for older children) they should teach them:
– That bullies are those with antisocial problems, therefore not to react to them violently.
– To avoid escalation of conflict by disengaging or controlling emotions and anger.
– To walk directly into the principle’s office to discuss the issue. (Explain the principle is the boss of the school and is the one in charge.)
– To understand boundaries and how to protect themselves from physical attacks. No one has the right to physically attack another, and the child must be properly trained and conditioned to know how to automatically assess the amount of potential danger they are in and what exactly to do.
If the problem persists, the parents should request a meeting with the principle of the school ASAP, and ask for the parents of the child who is doing the bullying to be there. During the meeting, the following should happen:
The bullied parents should explain why the meeting was requested and how the situation adversely affected their child. Try to be calm and pro-active without making it seem like a blame game situation.
A conductive environment should exist where by the bullied can explain to the bully how he/she is being affected by the harassment.
All the parties involved should give their input on how to put an end to the conflict. Remember to take notes.
An agreement should be reached and formalized it with a handshake. Allow the bully and the bullied to have a private moment so that they can patch things up.
Understanding conflict and peace making are important ingredients in arresting conflict in the school environment.
HOW NOT TO BE A BULLY: Sometimes it is difficult to know what is or is not bullying. Often, actions start out just being fun, but may at some point actually turn into bullying. If you are not sure whether something has become bullying, stop and think and ask yourself these questions:
Are my actions or words hurting someone else's feelings?
Are my actions or words hurting someone else physically or making that person feel afraid?
Would I want someone else to do this to me?
Am I unfairly taking my anger out on someone?
Am I trying to control someone against his or her will?
Sensei Martin H. Doherty, RP-CRA
Director, Kick Smart Workshop™
Committee Member, PAC (Ontario Early Years Centre)
Certified Black Belt Instructor
Former Committee Member, BBI (Black Belt Institute)
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