There will be no class from 11-27 to 11-30. Have a safe and great Thanksgiving everyone.
Archives for November 2019
Knowing your child is being bullied can bring up a lot of emotions: anger, helplessness, shock—perhaps even painful memories from your own childhood. As parents, you want to protect your child, but you also know you can’t always be there. And crucially, there’s a risk that by fighting your child’s battles for them, you could be stunting their growth. Part of parenting, after all, is preparing children to take care of themselves. And while you and the school certainly can play a role in putting a stop to it, conflict is a part of life, and your child will have to learn how to navigate tough situations and people sooner or later.
Beginning martial arts training might give you some pause. You could be worried that you are teaching your child to solve their conflicts with their fists, not their words or actions, but that is wrong. The truth is, by giving bullied kids the tools to defend themselves, parents are not so much teaching their children how to fight but rather giving them the confidence to not feel the need to fight. Here are five key ways martial arts training can help bullied children.
Being bullied feels helpless. When will the next name-call happen? The next shove? The next hit? What happens if I’m cornered, and no one sees what’s happening to me? Often times, the stress of what could happen is more damaging than what actually happens, because the stress cannot be escaped. It’s internal, and it’s there whether the bully does something that day or not. By learning martial arts, your child will be able to change that narrative. Knowing that they can actually take care of themselves, if worse comes to worst, means they’ll interact with the bully in a different way. If a bully is used to pretending to strike your child simply to get a laugh when your child cowers, she or he will be thrown off if your child no longer cowers, but expertly and calmly dodges. It will show the bully, and the bully’s friends, that their tactics no longer work. Their tactics can no longer get the reaction they’re seeking. Sometimes, this is enough to stop the bullying. If it doesn’t and tensions escalate, and your child has the training, fighting back will show the bully that your child is not one with whom to be messed. And, if your child is ever placed in a situation where a fight cannot be avoided, both you and your child can feel more secure that they will be safe.
Gain a New Support Network
Bullied children often feel alone. Perhaps they have few friends, or maybe they don’t feel they can come to you to talk about what’s going on. Children often feel that by telling their parents or teachers about the bullying that it will only get worse. This creates a toxic cycle where your child will feel more helpless and alone. The more helpless and alone, the less likely your child is to feel that the bullying will stop. The longer the bullying persists, the more victim-like the child feels, hurting their self-esteem and confidence. Taking martial arts classes will allow your child the option to create new friends and gain a support network. Perhaps others in the class are also being bullied, or maybe they simply love martial arts. Either way, your child is being shown that there is more to the world than simply their school. As children, they don’t yet know how much college, their twenties, their thirties, and beyond will change them. They don’t know that some of the gut-wrenching problems of now will barely register, if at all, in the years to come. Training can show them that they’re not as alone as they feel, that their circumstances can change for the better—and that they can be the conductor of their own improvement. By meeting new people, they can see that there are other people out there who will share interests, have their back, and be good friends. Too often, children commit suicide because they do not understand or believe that their world can—and will—be different for the better. Learning that they themselves can be the one to make it better is a gift to your child.
Many black belt students have never engaged in an actual fight. Why? Because martial arts training gives children the confidence, support network, and the discipline to know when to walk away. Through training, your child will learn to de-escalate tensions and how to remain calm. If someone throws a punch at your child, your child won’t have to necessarily punch back or even run away. S/he could merely dodge, leaving the bully the injured party. It could also inspire compassion and restraint. Just because your child now knows they can fight, doesn’t mean they should—especially when the aggressor has no training. Further, your child could peacefully come to the defense of others, which could also help them feel empowered and make additional friends.
Physical and Mental Health Benefits
Through martial arts, your child will be getting exercise, which research shows can help children feel less stressed and sleep better at night.* In addition to getting stronger, developing endurance, and gaining flexibility, your child’s reflexes can become sharper. Striking-based martial arts, like Kung Fu, do this by increasing your child’s fast-twitch muscle fibers. Additionally, training gives your child a hobby outside of electronic devices. Spending time training will keep your child’s social media habits limited, and help prevent your child from adopting a sedentary lifestyle.
Help the Bully
Oddly enough, giving your child martial arts training could also help the bully. There are a myriad of reasons for why bullies bully, but sometimes it’s because they themselves have been (or still are) being mistreated—either by other kids or at home. Having your child turn the tables—but not resort to name calling or abuse—can show the bully that there are other ways to deal with conflict, potentially breaking the cycle. Your child could set an example for the bully and others.
As your child grows, he or she will undoubtedly face new conflicts, but setting them up with a foundation to be patient, decisive, and confident will serve them in ways to come. Learning that they can be self-sufficient will help them in the careers. Teaching them patience, restraint, and compassion will help them in their personal relationships. Martial arts training is not about learning how to fight. It’s about learning how to live. How to protect yourself and those you love. How to recognize the importance of not judging people by their appearance. Gifted martial artists come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Your child will learn to be less judgmental, and that insight will serve them well in life. And with so many forms of martial arts to choose from, your child can find something that suits their personality.