Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bully Proofing Your Child

Bully Proofing Your Child
The Founder of the Bullying Prevention Program Called Bully-Proof Vest 5 Step Method of Handling Bullying Without Fighting Shares Secrets to Help Parents and Teachers Protect Children from Bullying in Phoenix AZ

Bully Proofing Your Child starts with some simple but often overlooked or under-emphasized steps. Having taught thousands of children and adults steps to effectively handle bullying behavior over the past 26 years I've been able to learn quite a few practical lessons.

  • How to handle aggressive behavior
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Encouraging empathy
  • Verbal Judo Martial Arts for the Mouth
  • Overcoming worry, fear and anxiety
Some of the same skills we teach at my bodyguard/security training events are directly applicable to these situations. However, we have to consider the audience and the age-appropriate learning methodology.

I'm able to meet thousands of parents and children each year and have had the opportunity to analyze the behavior of children, their parents and notice what works... more importantly when it comes to handling bullying, what doesn't.

  1. It begins with the relationship from the parent or teacher to the child. The child needs to feel that it is OK to talk to you about difficult or troubling subjects. The lines of communication need to always remain open. Children need to know they can trust their parents to not to over-react to what they tell you and that they will be believed. I always tell parents, trust but verify. But the child should see that you choose to trust them first and will then tactfully verify. It is important to preserve the bond of trust and the dignity of the child. It is important to treat all safety concerns with a calm and sincere effort.
  2. Setting an example how to deal with aggressive or abusive behavior. Children will follow their role models and often replicate what they see. How they experience and witness the parent handing aggressive behavior will usually result in them doing the same. Think of these moments as teachable times where you can show how self control, putting something in context and treating others appropriately is important. Simply taking a moment to use an anger management technique could be powerful. If you cut off in traffic, rather than lashing out in anger, using threats or rude gestures, take a deep breath, count to ten and use your words to redirect your emotions and behavior. "Wow, I need to take a breath, count to ten and take some cool down time." You are then teaching your child how to use these techniques and can use this example when they face frustrating challenges. This sets the stage for staying calm in the face of a bullying situation and creating some emotional separation to think more clearly.
  3. Building strong social skills are critical for bully proofing your child. Simply teaching them how to make eye contact, shake hands firmly, do introductions and initiate conversations help build confidence and bullying prevention skills. Additionally, your child will feel more comfortable trying to confront the problem with words or access help by involving adults. Children with higher social intelligence and more advanced social skills are less likely to be selected as the target of bullying. This is why it is important to help your child develop self awareness and empathy.
  4. Testing and guiding social intelligence. One simple test that I advise parents to give their child is simply to observe them introducing themselves to a group or social situation. Notice how they shy away, or work their way into a group. Note their body language, tone, word choice. You can encourage improvement in all of these areas if necessary. You can also watch how your child demonstrates problem solving skills. Often when a child reverts to bullying, they are demonstrating a lack of alternative social skills. By providing them with other options, they can develop more responsible methods of getting what they want. This can go a long way in teaching your child how to prevent and manage aggressive behavior, abuse and bullying situations.
  5. Imparting and reinforcing strong safety skills. Teaching safety skills should be a natural part of growing up. Reinforcing them is a matter of taking advantage of teachable moments just as you would teaching a child to hold your hand and look both ways before crossing a street. Just like wearing a seat belt, bullying and abduction safety habits can be introduced in a non-threatening manner as to not cause undo anxiety or worry. Role playing is another great way of reinforcing these lessons and, with a bit of creativity, can be a fun way of boding with a child.
  6. Encouraging integrity, character and doing the right thing are ways to build a positive self concept and self respect. These go a long way in building inner strength. You can notice children who carry themselves with dignity and confidence. They project an inner strength that comes from the respect they have for themselves. Respect begins with one's self and in the home. Additionally, a child who has a strong sense of values and self is far more likely to speak up to help defend someone else. Children can learn to be a good friend, include others, and thwart bullying by speaking up when they see wrong. Isn't that the world we all want to live in? In my Nottingham's KNIGHTS program, we encourage a hero culture (as opposed to the victim culture) and celebrate courage, honor, standing up for the weak. Our goal is to have the strong be confident and courageous in defending others who may not have the ability to do so. Reports show that over 85% of bullying happens away from teachers and adults. Encouraging character, integrity and a hero culture helps redirect and reduce bullying incidences in social situations when adults may not be present.
These are integral lessons reinforced in most martial arts schools. In my USA Martial Arts school in Phoenix, these are not only encouraged, but required. Students earn patches, stickers, and advance in martial arts belt rank based on displaying consistent positive choices, good habits, social as well as leadership skills and safety skills.

But you don't need a professional martial arts instructor and bodyguard trainer to help your child learn these things. It can begin at home or school with simple encouragement and consistent reinforcement over time.

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