IF BACK TO SCHOOL MEANS BACK TO BULLYING: WHAT TO DO WHEN A CHILD IS AFRAID TO GO TO SCHOOL.

While many children look forward to the first day of school year, there are many more who feel a deep apprehension- too frightened to go back to class and be at the mercy of school bullies.

160,000 kids stay home from school each day, across the country, in fear of being bullied.  In every class two to three children spend their day afraid.

Bullying can take many forms including physical, verbal and emotional abuse, social exclusion, intimidation, racial/ethic slurs, sexual harassment and cyber bulling. (Alane Fagin,MS, Executive director CAPS)

 

The above forms of bullying can lead to many negative outcomes, such as Excessive absentees, Depression, Social anxiety, Decreased self-esteem, Negative school outcome Anger, Sadness.

There are many bullying strategies and methods for parents and children to help keep children feeling safe in school.

Below are a few simple strategies that you can use with your child

  1. Help your child not to be a target => teach them good posture: such as shoulders back, chin up eyes straight ahead.
  2. Teach them to identify adults in school they can turn to.  Teacher, Principal, guidance counselors etc…
  3. Teach them to identify who their friends are and teach them to travel in a group if possible.

1)  What is a Bully?

When you think of a bully, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  Is it someone on TV?  Someone you saw in a movie?  Someone you see every day?

  • A bully is usually not a happy person, not someone who smiles or is easy to get along with.
  • A bully usually acts mean and angry much of the time and says things that frighten people, or hurt their feelings, like “Shut up!” or “Do what I say!” or “You’re stupid!”
  • When we run into a bully, we may get scared and freeze, we may want to run away, or fight w/the bully, or cry.

But a bully is someone who has a problem, too.

  • When we run into a bully, we are concerned about ourselves and our safety, and usually don’t stop to think about the bully.  That’s normal.
  • If we stop and think, we realize that a bully is someone w/a problem.  He is not happy, and there’s probably a reason for that.  The bully may have had a bad day, a bad week, a bad year.
  • You know, most bullies become bullies, probably because someone once bullied them.

2)  Are you a Bully?

How can you recognize if you are a bully?

  • Maybe the first thing you’re thinking is I’m not a bully.  I’ve never been a bully.  I know lots of people who are bullies, but I’m not one of them!
  • Think a little bit more.  Do you remember one time when you acted in a bully-like way?
  • Maybe you tried to boss your little brother or sister around?  Maybe you yelled at your friend and wanted them to do something the way you wanted it done?
  • You didn’t mean to be a bully — but you were, when you did that.

But that doesn’t make you a bad person.  Maybe at one time or another, we ALL are bullies.

  • We all bully for a reason – we’re tired, frustrated or disappointed.  We can’t get what we want, we can’t reach someone or something we’d like to reach.  There are a lot of reasons — and they all matter, they’re all important.

By learning Mental Self-Defense, you can avoid the conflict that comes from bullying.

  • This is called mental self-defense, because it uses the strongest, most powerful weapon we have — our brain.
  • Our brain knows that the smartest way to fight a bully is to find a way to NOT fight the fully.
  • One way to NOT fight a bully is to understand the bully.  When we look at how we have been bullies, we can better understand what makes a person a bully.

3) How do I know if a child is being bullied?

One way is to ask.  And then listen to their answers.

  • Does anyone ever feel left out at home or at school?
  • Why do you think you feel that way?
  • Do you ever get the feeling other people don’t like you?
  • What makes you feel that way?
  • Do you think the person who made you feel that way may be trying to make you feel bad, because he or she feels bad?
  • What do you think you could say to that bully that would make a difference in how she or he treats you?
  • Do you ever stop to think about how you can handle someone like that bully?

4)  How do I know if a child is a bully?

Violence and aggression are taught on TV and in the movies.

  • Do you spend a lot of time by yourself?  Do you feel like fighting or are you angry a lot?
  • Television and movies encourage children to be aggressive and violent.  Some children come to believe that they are “not good enough” or “not smart enough.”

Questions to ask –

  • Have you ever felt that you’re not wanted or not important enough for other people to listen to?
  • Have you ever made someone else feel unwanted?
  • If so, think about why you did that.
  • It hurts to feel left out, doesn’t it?
  • Maybe that’s why you do it?  Are you getting back at someone?
  • Do you ever stop to think about different ways you can act w/people?

Bullying sets a pattern for adult life.

  • Bullying not only affects kids’ lives, but sets a pattern for adult life.
  • A child who’s been taught to bully and has enjoyed the effects of bullying is going to be an adult bully.
  • 60% of the children who’ve been to the principal’s office by 2nd grade will have been in jail by the time they’re 24, if steps are not taken to change that pattern while they are still in the 6-9 yr age group!

5)  What are the effects of Bullying?

Being bullied can be frightening and harmful, both physically and mentally.

  • Things that frighten us when we’re very young stay w/us for a long time.  That’s why when you’re scared, it’s important to talk to an adult about it.
  • Bullying can keep children from learning how to relate to others around them.
  • Being a bully can set a negative approach to life that affects a person’s relationships, preventing the development of a healthy, positive life.

Bullying can have devastating consequences.

  • Children who are bullied learn to run away from frightening things rather than how to deal w/them.  They learn to fight rather than to work thru an argument.
  • Children who are bullied, esp. on an ongoing basis, take on negative beliefs about themselves, and about others, that stay w/them for years.
  • What appears to be insignificant teasing, can be devastating to children.

6)  What can we do to help a Young Child Deal w/Bullying

Separate fact from fiction.

  • Just because a bully is bigger or stronger, doesn’t mean we can’t get away from that bully.
  • We can get away from a bully, no matter what size or strength, and we can stop that bully from hurting us.  Best of all, we can do it w/o fighting.
  • By learning how to be AWARE of a bully, how the bully looks and what the bully says, and by learning how to talk w/a bully, we can learn to stop a fight BEFORE it happens.

First we have to know something about a bully –

  • A bully can be young or old, rich or poor, boy or girl.  Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, ages and colors.
  • All bullies are hurt, angry, afraid and frustrated, and they verbally or physically pick on other people because they are not feeling good.

7)  How can mental Self-Defense help a child?

The highest goal of the Martial Artist

  • The highest goal of the martial artist is to stop a fight before it begins.  That means:
    1. STOP a fight that’s inside of you before you do something you regret.
    2. STOP yourself from lashing out at someone else or punching or hitting someone else, before someone gets hurt.
    3. STOP a bully from attacking you — any way you can.
  • By learning Mental Self-Defense, you use the most powerful weapon you have, their brain, and develop the skills to prevent a fight w/a bully.

Physical skills are not enough.

  • The martial arts, like on TV and in the movies, is often shown as fighting only.  That’s not real Martial Arts.
  • That deals w/conflict and bullying only after it becomes a fight.  Watching TV, you learn nothing about how to Prevent, Prepare or Protect.
  • When we learn only physical self-defense skills, we do the same thing, we learn to deal w/conflict after it has already begun.  At that point, it’s too late to stop a fight, too late to think on your feet, too late to Prevent or Prepare.

The Art of Mental Self-Defense

  • The highest goal of the martial artist is to stop a fight before it starts, to avoid and therefore prevent it.
  • We learn physical self-defense skills to feel strong, to feel confident enough to not fight.  Physical defense skills are a final resort.  We use them if necessary.  We use them when we have no other way.
  • A balanced instruction of the Martial Arts includes Mental Self-Defense skills as well as physical ones.  We combine the power of muscle w/the power of your brain.
  • Learning Mental Self-Defense, you learn how to avoid conflict by using non-violent ways.
  • Instead of using force and possibly getting physically hurt by fighting or emotionally hurt by running away or not “winning”, you will combine brain and power for the most powerful line of self-defense.