Thursday, 23 January 2014

Building a character will make your kid bully proof

I've been brought up to believe that all conflicts should be avoided. But as we all know, you can’t avoid some conflicts so you better be prepared.

They told me to fold back and tell some grown up what happened, someone in charge, a teacher, a policeman, a janitor or someone else.  But by the time they react it would be too late. If they chose to react at all. So I figured that it’s better  for me to be in charge. But it was late.
That attitude has left me with problems later on. I had fears and had become a bully magnet. So I decided to help my son avoid that trouble.
Being bullied is one of the greatest traumas you can get while growing up. It is a combination of humiliation and violence, devastating to your self esteem, confidence and happiness. When they tell you you need to be a good kid, they didn’t mean you should be scared and unhappy. I’d rather have an aggressive kid than a sad one. But there are ways to teach your child to respond to violence without making him a bully himself.

  • Teach him to shout “Hey you, boy! Stop that! I don’t like it!” That will draw someone’s attention and hopefully someone will react. Also, this would confuse the attacker (who is usually used to dealing with silent victims) and make him stop for at least a moment. Which is usually enough for the second point.
  • Teach your kid to fight back. Make him understand he won’t be in trouble if he defends himself. The fear of punishment and disappointing their parents may cause the children to put up with bullying. When they are just toddlers, one or two years old, it would be enough. When they’re older, they will know  if someone is too dangerous to mess with. They will know when they have to fold. But it mustn’t be every time.
  • Have your kid take up some kind of martial art, preferably defensive (judo, aikido,). Some of these can start as early as three. This will build up their confidence and self-confident kids are more likely to go under the bully’s radar.

Here is what I did with my 2yo. I noticed that he gets pushed around the playground a lot. So next time a kid came and started the “this is my swing, seesaw etc. “ song, I told my kid to say “hey you, boy! Stop that”.  That was easy as my boy is in the “parrot” phase of speaking. The kid stopped what was supposed to be a push to my son’s chest and halted for a second. Then  I held the boy and my son kicked him in the knee. The aggressive boy’s mom was just looking, she didn’t dare to comment as she didn’t comment her son’s harassment of all the other kids in the playground.
The result? The other kid stopped being aggressive, my boy learned an important lesson and I felt damn good. Of course the next time I didn’t help him, my kid managed to fight for himself on his own.

In short, helping your kid stand up for himself will:
  • Build confidence, not aggression
  • Lower the risk of depression and asocial behavior.

Teach him that it is better to react than not to react. Silent, passive kids get hurt.

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