By Nancy Johnson Horn, Editor
Were you bullied as a kid? I was and it was awful. I want to make sure I teach my children how to stand up for themselves. I recently attended Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s No Room for Bullying Event, hosted by Vida Lok (MommyLok) and Maria Wen Adcock (Bicultural Mama).
My son, Ben (almost 8) and my daughter Allegra (5 1/2) e were shown techniques to help protect themselves against bullying. Since this was a Jiu Jitsu studio, you may think that they were just shown how to defend themselves physically, right? While that was part of it, that wasn’t the main focus. My children have taken Jiu Jitsu for the past year, so I was excited to see what techniques they could learn (they go to a studio near our home).
This is what we were shown.
Step 1) Walk Away and Raise Awareness
- The first thing you must teach your child when they are being bullied is to ignore and walk away.
Remind your child how much their family and friends love him/her and they should be trained to ignore any verbal abuse from the bully who is trying to control their feelings by walking away for safety. At the moment the child demonstrates that he/she cares about what the bully is saying, the bully will win and will continue bothering him/her.
- Ignoring the bully could be a challenge so there is a technique used to make it easy for your child to do so.
When someone calls them a name, they should ‘catch the comment’ and then ‘trash it’! After they do that, they finish by saying something nice to themselves. EX: If someone calls them stupid. They should mimic catching the comment with their hand and throw that comment in the trash using their imagination.
After that, they finish by saying something nice about themselves, for example “I’m smart”.
- Have your child talk to you and their teacher about what happened by asking for their help to make it stop, and to inform them about the situation. This allows your child to have an adult interfere and take care of the situation.
Once again there is a technique for your child to effectively communicate with you and their teacher. When communicating, your child must be serious and beable to explain the situation in detail so the adult will notice that is a real situation. Bad communication: “Miss Lara, Joe is bothering me!” (using a whining voice). The teacher will most likely ignore since she will think that is not something important. Good communication: “Miss Lara, Joe is calling me stupid over and over again. I have already asked him to stop. This is really bugging me. Would you please talk to him and tell him to stop?”
Step 2) Stand Up for Yourself
- Most bullies will back off if you tell them to buzz off right to their face. The only downside to that is that you need to be ready to defend yourself if need be).
- If the verbal bullying is repetitive your child must now stand up for themselves and show the bully that they are not weak. If the bully sees them as a strong individual he or she will most likely leave your child alone.
- How can your child stand up for themselves?
Your child has to use a strong voice and strong corporal body language.
Having a solid posture, with the hands not moving, shoulder high, chest forward, looking the bully in the eyes, and using a strong, firm tone of voice they must say “Stop it! I don’t appreciate when you say this” or “Please stop this now!”.
It is not what they say but how they say it that will make the bully see them as a strong person.
Step 3) Self Defense (kids should know how to physically protect themselves). They showed us actually how to do this with jiu jitsu moves.
- Even after they stand up for themselves by asking the bully to stop, the situation may still escalate with the bully becoming physically aggressive such as using a push, kick or punch. When this happens, it is the time for your child to use Jiu Jitsu. It is important to understand that we teach your child to use Jiu Jitsu not to hurt the bully but to get free and escape. Being safe is number one. After the escape, your child will immediately get help from the teachers and parents.
- Commonly, when a child uses their Jiu Jitsu to defend themselves the bully will see that they are not weak anymore and will leave them alone; most bullies do not like to fight. So from now on, the bully will see your child as a strong person and they will move on.
Besides the “Walk Away” Technique, we were shown a Jiu Jitsu technique that you can teach your child is to surprise the bully taking him down with a double leg take down and escaping for help after. We were also shown another technique of what to do if a bully is on top of you.
Check out my video below.
Also, if your child sees another kid bullied, don’t just let it happen.. Run and get help or even help them stand up to the bully.
Thank you to Gracie Barra Academy, Vida Lok, and Maria Wen Adcock for this workshop.