How to Make your Child Bully-Proof
Sensei, Lloyd Lewis, on how Martial Arts can prepare your child to navigate their school years, and beyond. If you'd prefer to listen to this then visit our new Podcast!
In this blog, we're going to be talking about something that I've talked a lot about with my classes. It's about becoming bully-proof. Now I just want to clarify that this is not a blog where I condone anyone standing, punching, kicking and hurting anybody else.
All right, let's be honest.
Words can be hurtful, but at the end of the day, they are only words. And when you realise that what someone thinks of you has nothing to do with you, that's a really powerful thing to realise. When you realise that, the words cease to have any power on you.
Okay, so I just want to clarify that I don't condone anybody ever punching and kicking. Unless you absolutely have to the last resort or you are in a competition, then you really must.
So, how do you make your child bully-proof? Now, for me, I think it's all about confidence. It's about how you present yourself to the world. Children that I've seen who are bullied in the past are the sort of children that are head down, shoulders down. So if they try and absorb themselves into the background, they're not the ones that stand up and stand out. We talk about this in my dojo.
Even when we're doing things like listening stance, which is a way to kind of get children to really understand that this is a time for listening.
But what I talk about is head up, shoulders back, eye contact, looking forward. And we always talk about focus-forward as well. It's really important that the child has the confidence to get their head up.
Look around and look people in the eye. We know that lots of bullies have issues, and there are a lot of things stemming from a lack of self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. And we can address that in Martial Arts. But the child that is bullied also has this sort of lack of self-esteem, this lack of self-confidence. And with Martial Arts, the continual progression, the continual hard work, the continual focus on development, not just physical, but also mental development, the strengthening of character, all of that bleeds in and creates a very confident child. All right, so I know it can be a little bit of an oversimplification to say head up, shoulders back, eye contact that can make you bully-proof. But there is an aspect of truth in that, isn't it? Let's be honest.
The children that are bullied are the ones that traditionally kind of cower away from things. They don't embrace challenges.
They get quite scared. They get quite emotional when things are presented to them.
So I genuinely believe that Martial Arts can have a really positive impact, especially for children who are quiet or shy, who are reserved and want to take a background kind of thing in their lives to step back. Every time we have a new person come and join us I always say these words. I always say, before you can be good at anything, you first got to be brave. And what I mean by that is this if you are brave enough to try something new, then that's a really important thing.
And that is difficult for someone who has zero confidence, for someone who has no self-esteem, unable to deal with kind of social issues especially, plus we've had this whole COVID pandemic thing. So children have been away from people. They've only been in their little nuclear cell of the family.
It's important to acknowledge that they are being brave by stepping up in front of a group of children and being there and doing things and interacting and trying new things. Because again, we have children who are adverse to failure. There's a lot of children that I've taught in the past who, if they're very gifted, very clever children, academically brilliant, but they can't get something and they can't get something again and they can't get something again, then it becomes a problem for them. And they get quite emotional because they are really successful in the traditional academic world. So we know that life is all about failing and failing forward and working on and improving things that we need to develop. So I think it's a really important skill that children fail and fail regularly. And how does this feed into being bully-proof? Well, if a child is happy with failure, then if they do something wrong in school and someone says something to them, then they're like, yeah, you're right. They acknowledge the truth of it.
Yeah, I didn't do as well. That's okay. No problem at all. As opposed to being offended, as opposed to taking umbrage with the words and feeling that they are being victimised and feeling that they're being bullied. So, yeah, that's a really important thing about trying new things and being brave in a new activity.
So that's, again, a really beneficial thing that martial arts can give our children - the ability to reflect on something, fail forward, fail often, fail again.
And just keep moving forward.
So, yeah, it's great.
I think we need to also acknowledge the physical aspect of martial arts and how children become if they do it regularly and they do it often and they do it for a sustained amount of time consistently.
Then they become fitter, they become stronger.
And that changes their body, and that changes how they stand and things in school, like in PE and things like that, the child starts to progress and starts to get better and starts to excel in their own kind of way. So it's a really important thing.
So when someone who's inclined to bully sees that, they realise that might not be easy picking. That isn't someone who is going to just surrender, that isn't someone who's just going to cower. That is someone who is strong, that is someone who's physically and mentally strong and is able to then perhaps become a little bit more of a problem.
So, yeah, that kind of physical nature, that martial arts gives you the strength, the endurance and all that, it really does, again, feed into making your child bully-proof.
Another thing that I've seen, is if children are regularly attending martial arts sessions over an extended period of time and they are grading and they are progressing through the belts, they become known as that Martial Artist.
That's 'so and so', he's a martial artist / she's a martial artist.
Again, there's that reputation, because everyone has seen martial arts on television and things like that. So there's this idealised idea of what that means. So if a child gets that reputation, that becomes another barrier for a bully. So that's something that they aren't going to want to examine or something they're not going to want to push against.
Because we know that bullies lack confidence, we know that bullies lack self-esteem and the way that they traditionally feel better about themselves is by bullying people who are weaker.
So, yeah, I'm biassed.
I love martial arts and I was bullied in school. I was bullied quite badly in school and I started martial arts when I was 17. And so many people said to me:
"What are you doing? You're going to get killed."
Because again, they had this idealised idea of what Martial Arts is and people like Bruce Lee and stuff, and it's like, oh, you're going to get killed, you're going to get hurt.
When someone realises that you have been involved in Martial Arts for a long, long time, they realise what that means, what you must have as your character and your physical kind of prowess, what all that sort of means and what it signifies. So if you are a Martial Artist and you've been doing it consistently for a long time, you get all of that kind of a cache of the confidence, the physicality all of that and you get the skills to be able to punch and kick someone in the head effectively. But like I said, this is not about punching or kicking people in the head effectively.
I always say it's the last resort. If you can't do anything else. If you've tried to exhaust every other avenue. Then, and only then, do you punch and kick people and it's genuinely the last resort. So yes, I hope that makes sense. I hope that I've covered a few things there and sort of opened your eyes a little bit into what for me martial arts means in terms of making children bully-proof. I'm sure I've missed a tonne of other things but it's just what's going on in my head today.
So guys, thank you very much. Take care.
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