How to recognize the tell signs your child is involved in bullying (directly or indirectly) and how Martial Arts can help…
Back-to-School is in full effect, and it often comes as a relief for us parents, we love our children but having them at the house all summer does come at the cost of how much our routine changes to accommodate our little prince and princesses.
Personally I always a bit apprehensive about the first few weeks of school as with the new school year, new teachers and new class mates do bring a certain level of anxiety to all kids and we always hope that one of the new kids will not be the one who picks on our children but the truth is to better understand Bullying, as parents wee need to acknowledge that whether your child is directly or indirectly involved in Bullying, the potential risks and consequences are too great to ignore!
Bullying: A real danger for children
As parents we hope that our children are fully insulated from the negative effects that bullying leaves on the lives of children, but we see more and more that our hopes might not get us very far. Practically every child is at risk for becoming the victim of a bully, a bystander to the bullying, or the one who demonstrates the bullying behavior. And as we discuss the dangers of bullying for our youth, it is important to understand that there are three separate roles your child can have when it comes to bullying behaviors:
The 3 Roles in Bullying
Bullying is not the school heated rite of passage some might perceive it to be. It is a real, impactful, concerning trend that parents, teachers, and communities need to address. In terms of bullying, each of the roles [bully, victim, bystander] carries strong potential for impactful, harmful consequences. Not even the child demonstrating the bullying behavior is immune to the dangers, and in fact, he or she might have even more challenges finding the help he or she needs.
Is my child being bullied?
Knowledge might be power – but knowledge can also be overwhelming and stressful – especially for parents trying to do the right thing for their children. Bullying is a real and present risk for children across many different platforms. They face the dangers of verbal, physical, social and emotional bullying, as well as cyberbullying. They can also be the bully, the victim, or the bystander – and none of these roles are immune to negative and long-lasting effects.
The Warning Signs
No matter which type of bullying your child might be experiencing, the outward signs can range from mild and almost imperceptible to significant and severe. The key thing to remember is that some of the most devastating effects are internal and might not be as obvious.
Physical Warning Signs
- Torn or ripped clothing
- Bruising, scratching, or other injuries
- Bed-wetting or other interruptions in typical sleep patterns and habits
- Changes in eating habits (overeating, refusing meals, signs of bulimia or other eating disorders)
- Poor physical health or complaints of headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, etc.
- Dramatic changes in the way he/she dresses
- Increasing lack of attention to personal hygiene
Social and Emotional Warning Signs
- Reluctance or refusal to go to school
- Withdrawing from extracurricular activities
- Spending less time with friends
- Spending increasing time in isolation (locking bedroom door, spending more time alone in evenings, etc.)
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other interests
- Significant changes in relationships
- Expressions of fear or anxiety when talking about certain situations such as school, friends, or activities
- Changes in behavior around technology (signs of tension when using the computer, anxiety when getting text messages, etc.)
- Increased negative self-perception
- Hiding technology (closing the screen when you walk into the room, refusing to give passwords, etc.)
- Demanding changes in routines (taking a new route to school, leaving earlier or later, etc.)
- Using inappropriate and uncharacteristic language
- Yelling, crying, and having more emotional outbursts
More Warning Signs
- Finding excuses at school to leave the classroom, such as going to the nurse’s office often
- Declining performance in academics
- Requesting more money than usual, especially without legitimate reasons as to why they need it
- Breaking curfew, especially if this is out of character
- Stealing, lying, and other risky and/or illegal behaviors
- Using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products
How to tell if my child is the Bully?
It can be very hard to wrap your brain around the idea that your child might be the offender – the one using bullying behaviors – but it is extremely important to look for the following warning signs. Here again, knowledge is power, and if your child is the one wearing the bullying shoes, it is time to help them acknowledge their negative behaviors, get to the root of the real issues, and learn to make positive decisions and amends to the victims.
The Warning Signs
Many of the above signals and signs could indicate that your child is acting as the bully, but there are a few other additional warning signs which every parent should learn.
? Your child excludes others from play or social settings, either subtly or overtly
? Your child continues inappropriate or negative behavior, even after you have addressed the problems and made sure your child was aware of how that behavior makes others feel
? Your child is extremely worried about being popular
? Your child is intolerant of others who are different in some way (race, gender, ability/disability, etc.)
? You have witnessed your child tease or taunt other children
? You have heard others complain about your child’s behavior
? Your child is boastful about his/her own accomplishments and belittling towards those of others
? Your child is defiant towards teachers, coaches, and other figures of authority
My Child is the Bystander – What Do I Do
The bystander to bullying might be someone who lacks the confidence and courage to speak up, or someone who even “eggs on” the bully. Either way, the bystander who does nothing about the situation often suffers and contributes to suffering.
A child who is a bystander to bullying will often display some of the same warning signs as both the victim and the bully, depending upon the specific type of involvement in the situation. The most important thing to remember is that the bystander is affected by the situation – and has the power to influence the situation.
- Encourage your child to stand up for others in all situations
- Demonstrate compassion and empathy
- Talk about ways to help others – role play situations that your child might encounter
- Make sure that the adults in the situation are aware of the bullying – both on the side of the bully and the victim
How to Help
Seek resources. Some children might require medical services such as counseling. Resources such as martial arts programs aim to teach children about the internal measures they can develop to combat negativity from bullies and to rebuild self-esteem, confidence, and strength – of mind, body, and soul.
Remember, too, that at RABJJ Academies we are dedicated to using Jiu-Jitsu to help all members of our communities – including children – to reach their fullest potential and make real, positive changes in their lives.
The Value of Martial Arts as a Tool for Youth
Some people might think that martial arts are pursued because kids need to learn how to physically defend themselves against physical bullying. While there are benefits from learning self-defense for anyone, the value of martial arts goes far beyond this surface benefit.
Martial arts can give children opportunities to:
- Build confidence and self-esteem
- Develop a deep sense of personal responsibility
- Experience personal growth
- Learn how to work well with others
- Develop leadership skills
- Accept failure as opportunities for learning
- Embrace challenges
- Learn how to set goals – and achieve them
- Develop a strong sense of respect for others
- Build a solid work ethic
- Develop strong communication skills
- Become service-oriented
If these are the kinds of skills and opportunities you believe can help your child – in combating bullying and in life – we agree. We take seriously our role in helping to develop strong, healthy, positive, service-oriented members of communities – and it all starts with the kids.