Are the best years of our lives really spent at school? Isn’t school supposed to be the time in our lives when we don’t have the stress of paying bills, supporting family and have freedom to enjoy our time? For many children today the answer is simply NO.
Time at school can be unbearable for kids, especially when others are making their lives a misery through bullying. Whether it’s name-calling, online abuse, social exclusion or another form of bullying, receiving such treatment can be hurtful, frightening and sometimes dangerous. Even if our children aren’t experiencing bullying right now, as parents it is natural to be concerned that it could happen in the future.
Schools have moved forward a great deal, in terms of bullying policies and safeguarding, however, the NSPCC reports that over 16,000 children are absent from school in the UK at any one time due to bullying, clearly showing that not enough is being done to overcome the issue.
We all want the best for our children, who have the right to grow up in a safe environment. It’s especially hard when they begin to experience bullying at school as we’re often at a loss as to how to positively help them.
Whilst we cannot be there to protect them all of the time and there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, there are some things that we can do, and encourage our children to do that will help them to avoid or deal with bullying situations.
POSITIVE STEPS TO AVOID BULLYING (summary of our Bully Buster Programme report)
SKILL#1 Act with awareness, calm, respect and confidence
- Project a positive and assertive attitude: head up, back straight, walk briskly, and move away from people who might cause trouble.
SKILL#2 Leave in a powerful, positive way
- Coach your child to veer around the bully. Remind your child to leave with awareness, calm, and respectful confidence.
SKILL#3 Set boundaries about disrespectful or unsafe behaviour
- Remind children and teens that being cruel or hurtful is wrong whether it happens in person, via social media, by texting, online or in any other way. Address immediately any prejudiced language or remarks, even if it is “just a joke.” Teach children to how to speak up about disrespectful language directed at themselves or others by saying, “That didn’t sound kind.” Or “Please stop saying that.” Tell children that, if they don’t feel safe speaking up, their job is to get adult help.
SKILL#4 Using your voice
- Yelling and speaking up loudly calls attention to a bullying problem.
SKILL#5 Protect feelings from name-calling
- The Trash Can Technique helps to take the power out of hurting words by saying them, catching them, and imagining throwing them away.
SKILL#6 Speak up for positive action
- Coach your child to sound and look confident and friendly, not whiny or aggressive. Practise possible responses with your child. Examples of positive action can be found in our full report, which is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
SKILL#7 Persistence in getting help from busy adults
- Children who are being bullied need to be able to tell teachers, parents, and other adults in charge what is happening in the moment clearly and calmly and persistently even if these adults are very distracted or rude – and even if asking for help has not worked before. Learning how to have polite firm words, body language and tone of voice even under pressure and to not give up when asking for help is a life-long skill.
SKILL#8 Use self-defence as a last resort
- Children need to know that they have the right to stop someone from hurting them. At Meridian Kung Fu we teach that fighting is a last resort and only to be used when you are about to be harmed and you cannot leave or get help. Learning a martial art helps most children become more confident, controlled and teaches skills that will help them resolve conflict throughout their lives.
The above steps are a summary taken from our full Bully Buster Programme report. Click here to see the full report.
Bully busting skills are incorporated into Meridian Kung Fu children’s programmes, and adapted to focus on the most common types of bullying for each age group (5-7, 8-12, and teens). Consider sending your child to a Meridian Kung Fu martial arts class designed to develop confidence, build character and teach self-defence.
MKF Wing Chun Kuen offer a fantastic opportunity to join a professional martial arts organisation with 20 years proven track record in bringing the very best out of children.