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One of the biggest fears of parents is finding out their child is a victim of bullying. Bullying these days can range from online intimidation to being brutally attacked by other children. We expect our kids to be safe at school and free from harassment. However this is not always the case. Many children hide the shame of being a victim of bullying from their parents and teachers for various reasons. Sometimes its fear of retaliation and sometimes is fear of being talked down to by their parents for not standing up for themselves

Here at 10 Signs that can help you determine if your child is a victim of bullying.

  1. Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings. The less reasonable your child’s explanation, the more likely bullying is involved.

  2. Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick, or faking illness, especially in the mornings. This could either be to avoid the bullying or as a result of the bullying. Typically, it’s both.

  3. Changes in eating habits. Skipping meals, unable to eat meals, or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.

  4. Difficulty sleeping, frequent nightmares, or complaints of headaches. Processing the abuse can take a toll even when sleep should provide rest and healing.

  5. Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school. Simply put, it’s tough to concentrate on anything else when anxiety is working in the background.

  6. Loss of friends or avoidance of social situations. Victims often lose the few friends they have. Other kids don’t want to be associated with victims or they’re afraid it’s “catching.” Victims seldom become “loners” by choice

  7. Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem. This may include anxiety-based behavior and self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about hurting themselves.

  8. Generalized fear. Your child may seem afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs).

  9. Appears sad. Not just sad, but moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home. A huge part of this is that he or she won’t talk about what’s wrong.

  10. Begins to bully other children. This is a disturbing sign that’s often a natural consequence of being bullied. Victims may begin to take it out on siblings or weaker friends and become aggressive and uncooperative with their parents.

As a martial arts instructor, I’m often asked by parents about the best ways to help their children to deal with bullies. While there are many approaches to the problem, I think one of the best ways is to instill self-confidence in your children. And martial arts is just one way to instill self-confidence.

No matter which tactics you try, you want to start by creating an open line of communication with your child. You want your child to feel comfortable to discuss any bullying incident with you. You can do that by simply listening to what they have to say. Then, you can continue to ask questions until you understand the whole story.

You can also share your own personal experiences with bullies. This will help them to understand that you know how they feel. Then you can try some ways to help counter the situation.

Here are three ways you can help with your child being bullied.

  1. Role play. For the same reasons you role-play to anticipate tough questions during a job interview, role-playing a few bullying scenarios with your child will teach him how to respond to a stressful confrontation. When practicing martial arts, we are basically role-playing various self-defense scenarios. When practiced enough, the student can recall and instinctively respond if he finds himself in a dangerous situation. At home, you can simply role-play some bullying scenarios to help your child practice for any confrontation. When he finds himself in a difficult situation, he will have more self-confidence since he’s better prepared to handle it.

  2. Teach body language and communication skills. Martial arts stances exude confidence. In martial arts training, the posture of the attention stance is body straight, eyes focused and feet firmly on the ground. Also, instruct your child to breathe properly (calm breath equals calm composure) and speak in a confident tone to help deflect any immediate threat from a bully. Any action taken on the part of your child should not be done in a manner that might be perceived as trying to challenge the bully. While standing one’s ground with an air of composure — despite the actual feeling of fear — should be learned, and practiced, children should also learn how to communicate and create rapport with others. Using words to defuse a situation can help prevent it from becoming physical.

  3. Take to the mat. Consider enrolling your child in a reality based martial arts program, such as Muay Thai Kickboxing, MMA or Krav Maga. The training at most self-defense academies does not promote the use of violence, however, having that knowledge will help your child feel more self-assured. And if your child does need to defend himself, his practice on the mat will provide a level of safety by allowing him to perform the moves instinctively when threatened. Besides learning self-defense skills — and understanding when it would be appropriate to employ them — he will take away life skills and leadership lessons that will bolster confidence throughout his life

Bullying should never be taken lightly. While we’ve made great strides against bullying — bullying policies have been implemented by schools, the workplace and the government — we need to, as a community, prepare and educate our children on how to deal with this serious issue. I believe, only through education can we truly make a difference.

Until our next newsletter be safe…

Instructor Joe Chao

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