As a nation, we’ve taken positive steps against bullying, with targeted policies implemented in schools and workplaces. But what can we do to ensure our kids – your kids – have the skills and wherewithal to handle bullying situations on a case-by-case basis? We aren’t advocating martial arts so your kid knows how to pound some bully into the ground. Instead, martial arts can have a profound effect on children at risk of being bulled and those in danger of becoming bullies themselves. Here’s how.
- Improvement in mental and physical health
Obviously, training two to four days a week is a way to get your child moving consistently and effectively. An improvement in our physical health contributes to an improved sense of well-being. Couple that with the feelings of improved self-confidence and self-esteem that comes from setting and achieving goals (often after failing at least a few times), learning self-defense tactics and joining a community outside of school and family, and you have the makings of a very well-rounded little person.
- Feelings of preparedness
Children in martial arts learn self-defense poses, stances and maneuvers – and that’s empowering. Feeling prepared in the event that you may one day feel bullied can actually go some distance in ensuring it likely won’t happen. There’s also the advantage of role-playing. It’s a tactic often used in anti-bullying programs, and role playing is essentially what happens in martial arts – we role-play self-defense scenarios. Practicing these techniques again and again helps a child build instinctual responses that can help him or her feel resilient and capable.
- Stopping bullies before they start
Bullying is often a cycle – kids who are bullies at school may be bullied themselves at home or been victims of bullying in the past. In many cases, bullies have yet to develop social or problem-solving skills that help them get along with other kids and manage their day-to-day lives. And so bullying is their aggressive and hateful response to feelings of insecurity and boredom, being socially awkward, any scenario in which the bullies themselves feel powerless. That doesn’t make it okay, but understanding the cause can be helpful.
Children in the martial arts learn skills that can help combat bullies, and these same skills may keep them from becoming bullies themselves. Accountability, structure, respect and discipline are all reinforced and emphasized in martial arts, and these qualities don’t jive with schoolyard bullies.
Again, role-playing can help children learn coping mechanisms when they’re feeling angry or mean and ready to lash out. Children learn composure and focus in martial arts, and the effects of these skills can be found off the mats.
As another school year approaches, keep an open line of communication with your children. And we welcome you to tour our school, sit in on a class, speak with our instructors, and consider the value of martial arts for your child. Take advantage of our introductory offer here.