Recently at the VMAs, the pop-singer Pink used her acceptance speech as a platform to address the insecurities that she’d heard from her six-year-old daughter. Her daughter felt she was ugly because she thought she looked like a boy with long hair. Because she’s so young, it’s easy to see how these insecurities could be attributed to bullying. Pink explained to her child that she’d faced criticism herself for being too masculine and did not let it deter her from becoming successful. She proceeded to show her daughter iconic celebrities that were considered odd and had endured the same criticism and managed to become legendary people. This allowed the little girl to see how amazing it is to be different when you have confidence and embrace who you are.
Bullying has always been a difficult topic to discuss. Some people avoid the topic in an effort to keep the peace but rarely does ignoring a problem ever solve it. Bullying causes children to feel inferior to others and doubt themselves when they should be using this time to discover who they are, what makes them unique, and be confident in that person. At a young age, embracing who you are is difficult to do when others try to keep you down.
Why do kids bully?
Lack of self-confidence is the main reason that bullies do what they do. You’d assume that bullies have the most confidence, but they prey on those that they perceive to be weak because of their own insecurities. Most of the time, bullies have been already bullied by someone else and are simply taking out their aggression on whoever is accessible. They do this in an effort to make themselves feel superior. Their lack of confidence leads them to do cruel things to gain a sense of empowerment and control. Making their victims feel small is always the goal, so they’ll target whoever they believe they can break.
How to combat bullying?
Making sure that your child’s school has an anti-bullying awareness campaign is a great first step. Aside from that, if bullies don’t perceive your child as a victim, they’ll have nothing to target. Mind you, this has nothing to do with how intimidating your child looks, but with how they carry themselves. Instilling a sense confidence in our children will allow them to deter bullies. If your child is strong-minded, they cannot be broken by an insecure person. They’ll have a self-confidence and positive self-image that cannot be shaken because they truly believe in themselves and feel empowered.
What makes a person confident?
Confidence is essentially certainty or the belief that you can trust someone or something. Self-confidence is believing and trusting in yourself. This doesn’t happen overnight, but it is a decision be better and do better. Children must be exposed to confidence in order to learn confidence. They look to their role models to empower them before they learn to look inward for validation. It’s important as parents to tell our children how smart, or beautiful, or talented they are and to teach them that they can obtain anything that they work hard for. We must encourage them to try new things and develop a sense of importance.
Back in 2012, a psychologist by the name of Amy Cuddy presented a very popular Ted Talk that focused on the effectiveness of body language and power posing. She explains that our nonverbals actually speak volumes to others and ourselves. When we are proud, we naturally tend to stretch out and open up our bodies. When we are less confident, we do the opposite and make ourselves small. When you’re alone, all you have to do is assume high-power poses for about two minutes, even when you don’t feel very confident, and your body will respond with real confidence. This talk was directed towards adults when facing interviews or other stressful situations that might require a little extra confidence, but who says this can’t apply to children?
What’s the best way to instill confidence in a child?
Although there are many options as far as how a child can gain confidence, physical activities and training like martial arts would be one of the best choices. The discipline that a child learns during martial arts training allows them to gain a sense of control. It requires kids to focus on their goal and using their abilities to achieve that goal. Teaching a child to master his or her body allows them to find that independence that they need.
Many powerful poses and stances are taught during martial arts training, so imagine the incredible effect that these classes could have on your child. Every single class provides them with techniques that focus on posture and poised behavior. Every sparring match allows your child to perform under pressure, which is a huge benefit and skill that must be used throughout life. Your child will take the confidence learned from martial arts and carry it with them in everyday life.
How will children be affected by martial arts overall?
Your children will be walking tall with their heads held high, owning the confidence that they’ve developed. Although confidence can easily become arrogance, the martial arts also teach humbleness and sportsmanship. This is an extremely important characteristic to have because, without humbleness, your child could easily become the bully. Be sure to keep your child down to earth as their confidence soars.
In addition to the confidence that they will have gained, they’ll obviously acquire some useful techniques in combat. While violence is never the goal in martial arts, in the worse case scenario, your child will be able to defend themselves if they are ever threatened. Let’s face it, you’ll always have those alphas in life that just want to dominate everyone. But, if your child is strong-minded, those bullies won’t be successful in making them feel small. The bully will have wasted their time trying to break the powerful human being that you’ve raised.
It was a packed house on Thursday night with Grandmaster Lee and students of all ages at the Hales Corners dojang. Come join us next time!
Bullying: the Reality
Bullying is a staggering problem in the U.S., where nearly 50% of children report experiencing it at least once throughout their student years. Despite of this sobering number, there are no federally mandated anti-bullying classes, nor mandatory school staff training to combat this serious epidemic. The long-lasting effects of bullying on children are not fully understood either.
The good news is: more and more schools recognize the need for radical changes, to implement educational anti bullying classes, and initiate a deeper, more appropriate conversation between the institutions and the parents to find new, working methods to make school a more welcoming, positive experience for all children.
Yet the problem persists, and it is likely to cause a few difficult moments to many parents across the nation, leaving them wondering whether or not they could do something more, preparing their children better, or help them to develop various coping mechanisms that could not only aid them against bullying, but give them important life skills for decades to come.
Martial Arts: Your Best Bet Against Bullying
You may be surprised, yet it is true: children who participate in martial arts fare much better in school and life in general. It is important to stress, however, that these classes do not teach, nor encourage the use of violence under any circumstances, and this also means that bullied children are trained to use self-defense only as an absolute last resort to stop bullying, in case of physical attack. While it is a crucial life skill to have, physical force can never be the proper solution to schoolyard conflicts.
Luckily there are other, greater benefits: instead of teaching how to stop bullying, they focus on training your child to learn valuable personal skills. The following list includes the most outstanding advantages your child could experience as a result of taking these extracurricular classes this school year.
These classes teach excellent socialization skills: from the first moment to the last, they promote interacting in an equally polite and respectful way with teachers and other students. Being able to implement these newly acquired interpersonal skills in a school setting, your child may not only be able to completely avoid being hurt, but may become a positive example to others about using positive communication skills to stop bullying.
It is extremely important for your child to learn that while conflicts are usually an inevitable part of life, violence and harming others are not. Under no circumstances it is acceptable to hurt others, physically or otherwise. These classes teach children to be more resilient, to be able to take the hardships of life without reacting in negative and improper ways, to not to worry so much about the effects of bullying, rather, conduct themselves in ways that help to avoid or solve conflicts, instead of allowing them to escalate any further.
It is generally true: children that display a healthy dose of self-confidence are less likely to be targeted by bullies. These classes are known to help kids to feel more positive about their abilities: by teaching them to bravely face their fears, by allowing them to master their skills in challenging situations, and by letting them feel accomplished every time they overcome self-doubt, they become more ready each day to handle difficult tasks in school, with peers, and virtually in all areas of life.
Developing self-discipline further enhances one’s ability to masterfully guide all thoughts and actions towards accomplishing the desired goals. By meticulously building new routines and skills, these classes can help your child to aim high, remain persistent, and never give up on their dreams, regardless of what difficulties may come their way. This is an incredibly important skill to have when dealing with negative classmates who may make fun of your child, not see the benefit in hard work and delayed satisfaction.
A slightly different skill from discipline, focus helps a child to remain in the moment, pay attention to their breathing, slow down, and treat the next course of action as their primary responsibility. By helping them to not to be scattered, these classes are known to help children to improve their academic skills and grades as well, creating well-rounded individuals who are capable to respond to the various, ongoing challenges and requirements of school and life in a healthy and balanced way.
An important skill these classes usually focus on building is the art of learning to be patient. In our modern world even children are conditioned to expect immediate results and instant gratification, yet the most successful ones in school and life are indeed the ones who learn to relax, not push too hard, and be able to just wait for the good things to show up that they have worked so hard for. Assuming this attitude may become your child’s best bet during difficult times with peers.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it provides some insight into the vast benefits martial arts classes can offer your child to avoid being bullied.
If you would like to learn more about the US Government’s Anti Bullying Campaign online, please visit www.StopBullying.gov