By, Darine Hounaine
If your child is unprepared for bullying or unaware of his surroundings, he is more likely to be targeted. Let’s face it; no one wants their child to be defenseless at the hands of a bully. That’s why you have to prepare your children; talk to your kids about how to deal with bullying before it happens, and discuss the importance of avoiding bullying hot spots, how to stay safe on the school bus and of course, how to stand up to bullies. In addition, make sure they can defend themselves. Self-defense doesn’t necessarily mean hitting back, but being aware of your surroundings, listening to your gut, leaving before a problem erupts, using a confident voice and carrying yourself with confidence. Below are nine strategies kids can use to defend themselves against school bullies.
Confident Body Language
One of the best ways to prevent bullying is for a child to have healthy self-esteem and carry themselves with confidence. This means having good posture, walking with a purpose and making eye contact with people. Nevertheless, if children slouch and keep their eyes averted, this makes them appear weak and easy to target. Work with your children on these techniques. Remind them that even when they do not feel confident, they should always walk as if they do.
Stay in a Group
Bullies are less likely to target someone who is with a group of friends. Ensure that your child knows that it is best to go places in groups, especially into bullying hot spots at school. If your child does not have a group of friends, it is important you work with him/her to develop friends. Friendship is a protective factor against bullying. Even one close friend can go a long way in preventing bullying.
Trust Your Gut
Teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings. Have them put their cell phones away and look around them. Is there a group of rough-looking boys on the corner? Is there a strange car at the bus stop? What about the man in the back of the McDonald’s watching their every move? Does something not feel right? Being aware of what’s going on around them and trusting their gut instincts, not only will help protect your children from bullying, but it is also an important life skill. Being aware of what is happening around them can help them avoid being assaulted or attacked as an adult as well. It is always crucial for them to keep their eyes open and always be aware.
Focus on Flight, Not Fight
Many times, kids do not realize that when things look like they could head the wrong direction, that they should just turn around and walk away. Be sure they know that it is not cowardly to walk away. Instead, remind them that it takes courage to walk away from a situation that is escalating. Stress to your kids that they need to leave a situation before it even gets out of hand. Knowing and acknowledging when a situation is about to take a turn for the worse and walking away is one of the best ways to avoid bullying situations.
Use a Strong Voice
If your child does find himself in a potential bullying state of affairs, sometimes using a confident voice and being assertive will diffuse the situation. Many times, bullies are looking for an easy target. A strong and confident, however, will usually cause bullies to back off. Have your children practice speaking assertively and in a strong voice at home. Consequently, when they are in a difficult situation it will come naturally.
Make sure your kids know that it is acceptable and encouraged to make a lot of noise if someone is threatening them or hurting them. Not only should they be using a strong voice, but they also can shout, yell or scream. The idea is to scare off a bully by attracting a lot of attention to the situation, especially from adults or teachers. This way is also important if the child is being attacked by a stranger during an attempted abduction. Being quiet and submissive is never a good idea.
Take a Self-Defense Class
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your kids is to enroll them in a self-defense class. Kids will not only learn how to defend themselves, but they also will learn confidence and self-control. Many times, diffusing bullying situations involves knowing how to respond to a situation in a calm and confident manner before it ever gets to physical bullying.
Use Self-Defense Techniques
It is true that it is never a good idea to encourage your child to fight, however, there are certain self-defense techniques they can use to protect themselves when attacked. For instance, there are techniques for blocking a punch that is thrown at them. There are also techniques for removing a bully’s fingers from their wrists as well as techniques on how to get free when being restrained. There are also techniques on how they can defend themselves from a group attack. All these strategies can be learned in a self-defense class.
Remember, when teaching your kids about self-defense skills against bullies, it is always positive to encourage them to diffuse the situation by using a strong voice or walking away. Also, check with your school on their policies about self-defense. Some schools have a zero tolerance policy and will suspend both the bully and the victim when physical bullying takes place. Be sure you understand the possible outcome when your kids protect themselves.