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Coping With Bullying

BULLYING. IT STARTS EARLIER THAN YOU THINK. BUT, YOU CAN ARM YOUR LOVED ONES WITH THE TOOLS TO COMBAT IT.

When we think of bullying, we generally envision the jocks in high school throwing the little guy in a locker or the mean girls on the bus making fun of someone’s hair texture. The fact is, it starts a lot earlier than you may think.

Studies show that although bullying activity peaks in middle school, it can begin as early as preschool. What start out as simple disagreements over crayons or who gets to throw the ball, quickly turn into teasing. Once a child has shown they are easily upset by teasing, certain children will take it to the next level, and it manifests into full-on bullying.

Bullying becomes a habit.

The key to stopping bully – especially in those early years of preschool and elementary school, when children are starting to form their own personality – is to teach them to love themselves and know they have value.

At the same time, we don’t want to develop a little monster who thinks they’re better than everyone else. That’s a problem of another sort. The goal is to develop children who build a sense of self-importance and self-confidence in themselves. They also need to learn whose opinion is important. Little Johnny in Kindergarten – who picks his nose and eats glue – might not like you, but his opinion doesn’t mean as much as that of Mom and Dad.

Developing confidence at a young age is not a quick fix either. It’s a process. It takes time, attention and cultivation. Like raising a child.

And in the age cell phones and chat rooms, today’s children have it worse than children in just about any generation before them. Cyberbullies – the bully who doesn’t even have to be standing in front of you to upset you – is the worst. And often the abuse doesn’t end with teasing. Most adults have dealt with this on some level.

If allowed to fester, bullying leads to poor grades in school, depression, sleep disorders, drug use, incarceration and suicide. It cannot be allowed to fester.

And I have a potential solution for you! I say “potential” because there is no catch-all, quick-fix answer to eliminating all the jerks in the world. My potential solution is training martial arts! And no, I’m not advocating kids just wallop the guy who stole their pencil. Martial arts – in addition to teaching self-defense – teach self-confidence in the individual from the word go.

In my classes, I tell my students they are individuals and they are part of a class, but they are not a member of a team. There is nothing wrong with team sports but in today’s world – where often everyone gets a trophy and having 3 or 4 good players can be enough to win you a title – children can get lost in the mix.

In martial arts you succeed or fail by what you put into it. Sure, Mom or Dad or the babysitter get them to class but once they step on the mat it’s all up to the student. And yes, that can be intimidating but the right instructor – one who is a real educator and builder of people – can inspire that child and arm them with the tools to deal a not so friendly world.

I have more to tell you so stay tuned. Better yet, come train with me at Chung’s Martial Arts in Edison Park! Ages 4 and up! Adults too! Classes or Private Lessons!

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