This past year, I taught a leadership class to 4th and 5th graders at Sandlapper Elementary School, which is located just a few miles from my karate school. This was a unique opportunity for me to teach these children how to deal with bullies in a non-violent way.
I have been training in the martial arts for many years and because of this, most students think I am going to teach them some fancy karate kicks or strikes. While I am passionate about protecting yourself when necessary, for most school age children, it’s important to give them the tools to defeat the bully that DON’T require fighting.
Instead, I focus on body language, awareness skills, using the power of their voice, how to communicate to an adult for help, and lastly, using the the best tool we all have available to defeat the bully: KINDNESS.
If we treated each other with kindness and respect, the world would be a much better place, filled with a lot less conflict.
How do you use kindness to defeat the bully?
It’s pretty simple really. Focus on doing small acts of kindness throughout the day. This could include things like smiling to everyone you meet, sharing a special treat from home during lunch, inviting someone to play during recess, helping another student put their books away, letting someone get in front of you at the drinking fountain, picking up a pen or pencil that falls to the floor or helping them with their homework. The list goes on and on.
Hopefully, you get the idea…….
The concept behind this non-violent strategy is to befriend as many students in your class with kindness, so in the event you are confronted by a bully, your friends will stick up for you. I call these friends “upstanders”!
Okay, I know what you are thinking!
You probably tell your child to stand up for themselves and fight back!
The problem is, fighting is not allowed in schools, even when you are the victim just trying to defend yourself. I have worked with boys who were being choked by bullies and didn’t know what to do and ended up on the ground trying to protect themselves. In these types of confrontations, both the bully and victim get suspended.
So fighting really doesn’t work!
Plus, think of the message we are telling our kids. If you don’t get along with someone, it’s okay to fight back?
I don’t think so.
What parents need to teach their kids is how to stand with confidence, how to speak with confidence and how to ask an adult for help with confidence.
Are you getting this theme?
Kids who are confident don’t typically get picked on by bullies.
Kids who practice kindness tend to have more friends who won’t let them get picked on by bullies.
So, start today practicing kindness and use it as an effective tool for self defense!