Bully-Be-Gone. What Can You Do as a Parent?
I must have posted a half-dozen times, here, and in other blog sites, concerning this subject, but, Hell’s Bells, bullying is still here, probably worse than ever. Bullying has always been here, but doesn’t it seem to you like it’s actually – if that is possible – getting worse? I mean, come on – a bunch of bullies set another kid on fire! Damn. And, here, in my area of Pennsylvania, big boys are still harassing and beating up on little boys; girls are terrorizing other girls; and, when the intended victim is not so small and defenseless, bullies are recruiting more bullies to gang up on the poor kid!
Fact is bullying is one of our most common forms of violence in this country. Which is scary because our country leads the free world in home grown violence. Over 30% of our children are either victims of or perpetrators of bullying. I could go into the statistics of the psychological scars of bullying, what it does to both the victim and the perpetrator. But, as a parent, I suspect you would much rather read about what you can do to help your child – if, of course, he/she is a victim of bullying.
You have heard this before from me, but you’re going to hear it again because it is vitally important. You need to accept the role of your child’s Safety Coach. And just like any good coach, you need to take a caring and supportive approach to the issues, but add another element – a Drill Sergeant’s Combat Eye – toward the skills you need to teach and maybe even repetitively train “into” your child assure that he/she will be able to prevent, avoid, and, when necessary, prevail over the bully.
- BE AWARE OF ANY SUBTLE OR OBVIOUS CHANGES IN YOUR CHILD. Be sensitive to any cluster of changes in your child regarding the grades he/she brings home; his or her study habits; attitudes toward going to school; hygiene; and/or in his or her enthusiasm in taking part in school activities, etc. A child who normally seems cheerful about going to school but is now moody and withdrawn, and who is later and later for school, bringing home lackluster grades.
- ASK QUESTIONS. Show you care by asking artful questions. Maybe not, “Hey, Dude, are you getting bullied?” but questions that show an unflagging interest in what he/she is doing in school, what activities is he/she involved in, who his or her friends are, what has happened that seems to have you upset? Do not allow the child to get away with vague value statements.
- ONCE YOU ARE REASONABLY SURE OF YOUR SUSPICIONS – even if your kid denies being bullied – contact responsible authorities and/or his/her teacher who you “know” to be caring at the school and let them know what you have learned, or what you fear.
- TAKE ON THE ROLE OF SAFETY COACH. There is still a good chance the bullying will not stop. It may even manifest itself into neighborhood or computer or telephone harassment. As your child’s Safety Coach you definitely can teach him/her the skills to Escape and Evade these jerks and Jerkettes. Let me assure you as a Bully-Be-Gone Instructor that you can do much more than I can by teaching your kids these skills at home.
- Teach Your Child How To Adopt A Tough-Target Personality, including how to stand up for themselves; How To Stride Confidently while Scanning the Environment with his/her eyes (instead of walking “meekly” with eyes cast down). Respond verbally to any and all challenges. Not to allow the bully to verbally insult, threaten, or otherwise abuse hi8m/her without strong verbal response:
- “Hey, I don’t appreciate what you just said.”
- Ask: “Allison, how about getting out of my face?”
- Tell: “Allison, I’m telling you to back off!” (Combine the words with a back-step and raise your hands correspondent to where his/her hands are (See: Nearest Weapon/Nearest Target ).
- Demand: Combine your command with a hard-step to the rear and assume a fighting stance. “Get back. Get back, now!” And, of course, once your child does this, teach him or her to have a definitive plan of action (which, actually, should have been formulated in your child’s mind before the bully even started his or her confrontation. A reasonable and doable plan of action, especially if you, the Safety Coach, had helped the child develop and train the physical part of the plan, will always help your child’s confidence).
- TEACH YOUR CHILD A RELIABLE “PRE-SHOT ROUTINE.” In any sport requiring nerves, accuracy and hand-eye coordination (golf, tennis, basketball, for example), there is a pre-shot routine that coaches teach their athlete-students. You can teach your child the same type of Reliable Pre-Fight Routine, a routine that actually will work so well your child will probably come out on top without ever having to fight.
- BREATHE DON’T FREEZE. 98 out of 100 victims freeze because they don’t breathe. As a result, the element of Fear destroys whatever Plan of Action they might have had. Worse, fear freezes their ability to think, talk, and move. Teach your child to inhale through their nose, hold the air in for a count of two, and exhale through the mouth deeply (count of two) to get oxygenated blood flowing to the brain.
- HAVE A VERBAL RESPONSE PREPARED. Possible the worse thing your child can do is to make no verbal response to a bully’s taunts. A controlled and “normal” verbal statement that reflects no fear is best.
- ALWAYS CONTROL YOUR SPACE. Never allow the bully to invade your space. It is yours. STEP DIAGONALLY TO CONTROL YOUR SPACE.
- DISTRACT AND ESCAPE. More likely than not, if your child has a good “Pre-Shot Routine” and carries the routine out, the bully will have lost what he or she is after more than anything. And that is the drive to see fear in your son or daughter’s eyes. To prop him or herself up in his or her own eyes, and/or in the eyes of his or her audience by diminishing your child. Likely, by now, the bully would have said something face-saving (“Well, this is not over douchebag—“), and then backing away. If, however, the bully is still standing there and the clock in your child’s head (instincts) says “it’s time to get out of Dodge, ” a good way to accomplish this is to Distract and Depart, which is one of my best Counter-Bully (or, for that matter, Counter-Sexual Predator/Counter-Criminal Tactics) Tactics.
- Look, Point and Go! With the bully concentrating on your, look past his shoulder, point and say”Oh, Mr. Smith (a name of a teacher, principal), I’ll be right there.” When the bully breaks eye contact with you, “Open the Door,” Rock the Door,” or perform the Hip Torque Technique (See the next post), and go!
- Redirect Focus. The bull is singularly focused on your child. Teach your child how to fracture the bully’s focus and redirect it back onto him or herself. Almost any kind of verbal distraction will work here. Point at his crotch and say, “Damn, look! You pissed yourself!” When he looks down, you are gone! Believe me, distractions work.
In the next post. When All Else Fails, rely on The Fighting Arts.
Until then, Stay Safe.
- FIGHTING ARTS PLAYBOOK, which will be featured in my next post.
Until Then, Stay Safe.