Becoming Bully-Proof

According to a BBC report, one in five young people admit to having been bullied within the last year. Bullying comes in lots of forms but it seems in the UK the most common form is verbal. We have surpassed the days of “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” and we know very well the long term effects nasty words can have on the mental health and wellbeing of our children. So what can we do? Here are some signs that your child may be being bullied.

If your child is being verbally bullied some of the signs to look for may include: excuses like feeling sick to avoid attending school, increase in nightmares, unwillingness to engage in social interactions, anxiety leading up to Monday. It is also common to notice behavioral changes like your child acting out or becoming more withdrawn. There may be more obvious signs if your child is being physically bullied, like damaged or stolen items, coming home hungry because their lunch or money was stolen, or even unexplained bruises and/or injuries.

If you notice any of these things it’s very important to talk to both the teacher and your child, but we know that this solution isn’t always the easiest and may not result in the best outcome. It’s important to give your child the tools to combat the

bullying themselves so that if they come across this again later in life they feel confident.

Confidence is the first weapon a child should learn and implement. Confidence comes in a lot of forms and is one of the biggest turn-offs for a bully because, as we know, most bullies prefer easier targets. However, confidence is not an easy skill to acquire, especially if you’re being or have been bullied. At Gracie Barra we have four steps in our teaching process, starting from posture and the way the child holds themselves, to learning to ignore the bully to decrease the chances of continued bullying. From there they learn how to stand up for themselves and, finally, to defend themselves if it becomes physical.

Why do we encourage the child to ignore a bully? Most bullies want attention, usually because they are lacking it elsewhere. For this reason teaching children how to not react in the moment is key, but also explaining the importance of finding someone they trust afterwards to talk about how it made them feel. It’s never okay for a child to bottle up those feelings. Bullies who persist, however, need to be told to stop. Surprisingly, a bully might not even know the effect they are having on another child, so encouraging kids to stand up for themselves and tell the bully to leave them alone not only teaches that child a valuable lesson for their adult lives, it can also make the bully see that it’s not okay.

What if it gets physical? Kids need to know how to defend themselves and safely get away from a bullying scenario. This final step is often what reinforces the first four. If they know they can protect themselves they will often have the confidence to ignore or stand up to the bully when needed and likely will never need their Jiu Jitsu skills. Teaching children how to fall properly and stand up safely, block from punches and also escape tight holds, is where our self defense is focused. Although most of the feedback we hear from the kids who do encounter bullying is of them using their words and strong posture to let the bully know they are not going to allow them to continue.

Our mission is to build strong kids and give them all they need for the adult world so they can confidently go after what they want in life and feel safe. We strive to build a community of kids who care about each other, stand up for their friends and also know they have us to confide in when needed.

Together we are stronger!