Bullying occurs in Plymouth, Canton, and Northville as it does in every city in the U.S. As a martial arts instructor, I have a different perspective on it than many others.
If you google “Anti Bullying,” most of the articles will talk about the schools responsibility to prevent bullying. This is important, but I believe that it is my job as a martial arts instructor, and your job as a parent, to empower your child to not be a target, and to be able to prevent them from being hurt. To empower your child with confidence is one of the most important ingredients to them being happy and successful in the rest of their life.
What are some concrete things you can do to empower your child?
I will be sharing more tips in future anti-bullying posts, but here is the first powerful thing you can do to prevent them from being bullied.
Fix Their Body Language (Including Their Tone of Voice)
Body Language could be defined as all the ways you present yourself and communicate to others without saying a word. A bully is in some ways similar to an adult predator (could be a sexual predator or a criminal looking to rob someone). Predators are not looking for a fight. They are looking for control. They are going to choose a target that looks like an easy conquest.
In nature, a lion will choose a wounded gazelle, a baby, or an older member of the herd to go after.
I saw a study years ago where researchers showed videtape of women walking through a mall, and asked them to tell them who they would choose as a victim. Over 95% of the attackers chose the same women. Women that were carrying big bags, had high heels, had long hair, weren’t aware of their environment, and passive body language-those whose body language told the criminals that they wouldn’t fight back. Some predators are excellent at reading even minute facial cues that tell them if someone will be passive when attacked.
How your child presents themselves lets bullies know whether they are a good target or not.
What are qualities that attract bullies? A child that is:
- often looking down and not making eye contact
- not aware of their surroundings
- shoulders slumped forward
- small walking stride
- quiet tone of voice
What do you do if your child exhibits body language that lacks confidence?
The first thing is to talk to them about the importance of confident body language. Do not do it in a lecturing tone. You do not want them to feel that you are criticizing them, and if you have this conversation more than once, do not nag them! The tone of the conversation should be very relaxed and natural.
Depending on the age of the child you may need to alter this, but here’s one way I came up with that I have shared with parents that they have had success with:
“I’ve been reading about body language recently and the experts say that it affects how other people treat you, and how you feel. I think we could both improve on this, so let’s help eachother. If you see me slumping my shoulders, not making eye contact when someone is talking to me, not being aware of my surroundings, or generally looking not confident, I want you to point it out to me. And I can do the same for you. Let’s just tell eachother quietly when see the other person with poor body language.”
If you notice your child’s shoulders slumping forward, you can gently push their shouders back and their hips forward. Do not do this in front of anyone that would make them embarrassed. Be subtle about it.
You can make a game out of this. You could be in a mall and sit down and start people watching. Tell them they you are both going to start looking for the most confident person in the mall, and the most unconfident person in the mall. When you find someone, they have to tell the other person why they think they are confident or not confident. Of course it cannot be mean spirited and making fun of others (then look who is the bully!) Do it in a detached, unemotional way.
Feel free to comment below and let me know how it goes, and if I can be of any help!
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P.S. If you would like to see more confidence in your child, I can do a free, introductory mini private lesson with your child. We are seeing great successes with our Kaizen Children’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program! You can schedule your free appointment here:
Sensei Ryan Fiorenzi
Read Anti-Bullying Tip #2: Is Your Child Being Bullied Right Now?