Bullying is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem among children and teens. When children are bullied, it can affect both their physical and mental wellbeing. They may become more withdrawn, anxious and depressed. These children may have more headaches and may have a harder time adjusting to school. Some may be physically harmed or commit suicide. People who are bullies may have a higher risk of substance abuse and violent behavior later in life. For some children, they have both been bullied and bullied others. These children are at a greater risk for all these problems.
These are serious issues that need addressing on many different fronts. While there is no one cure-all solution to this problem, we are not powerless to stop it. One simple option to help reduce bullying is through martial arts.
Both a child who is a bully and a child who is being bullied can benefit from being enrolled in a martial arts program. Here are several ways that learning a martial art can help both these types of children.
Being bullied often wears down a child’s self-esteem. They may feel lonely, scared and anxious. Going to school may become increasingly difficult. One of the best ways to combat this issue is to help your child build confidence. A child who appears confident is more likely to discourage bullies than one who appears shy and withdrawn. Through learning a martial art form, children will become more confident in their abilities, in their strengths and in who they are. This will make them less of a target for bullies.
Martial art forms teach children discipline. This is important for both the bullied child and the bully. It helps children to control their impulses because they have to work hard and stay focused to do well in a martial art. This trait can help reduce negative behavior. For a child who may be bullied, having self-discipline helps him feel like he is in control of the situation.
Martial art instructors are great at teaching respect for others. This is evident in one of the first things children will learn — the bow. Instructors teach and model respectful ways to address one another and keep impulses under control. Children who bully others often do not have a sense of respect for their peers. When a child is bullied, their sense of self-worth drops, and they may no longer have much respect for themselves. When a child truly grasps respect, she will understand the inherent worth that each human being possesses. The more the sense of respect, the fewer instances of bully behavior. For the bullied child, respect helps him stand up for himself because he knows he has worth.
Body language goes a long way in standing up to a bully. When a child feels threatened, she can use her martial art training to communicate through words and body language that the exchange should not go any further. She will be able to instinctively draw upon the stances used in her martial art training to stand her ground, breathe calmly and maintain eye contact. This body language will communicate that she has confidence, deterring bullies
Ideally, the situation would not escalate past the need for assertive body language. However, if it does, martial art training will help your child know what he needs to do to defend himself. Your child will feel safer and more confident knowing that he has already learned the proper techniques in a safe place. His body simply needs to recall them until he has the opportunity to get away.
In martial arts, it is important to note that your child will not be learning how to pick a fight. She will learn how to defuse the situation before it escalates, and she will learn how to use proper self-defense techniques if it does.
While many of these positive traits and behaviors will be inherently learned through martial art training, many martial art programs activity teach about how to handle being bullied. This is increasingly important in today’s youth culture where this issue is becoming more prevalent. Children will actively learn what to do if they are being bullied, how to defuse situations, and when it is and is not appropriate to fight. This kind of training is an invaluable resource for your child.
Martial art training is all about dignity, respect, and confidence. These qualities are vital in teaching children to stand up against bullies, as well as teaching them not to bully others. They will have the confidence to stand up for themselves, with a greater sense of self-worth that will not be easily broken down. Through training, dedication and hard work, they will be able to better defuse situations and know when the right time to use appropriate self-defense is. While it may not eradicate the problem, learning a martial art is a positive step towards reducing bully-related problems among today’s youth.