With summer winding down, everyone is turning their attention toward the new school year. While parents may be anxious about getting their kids off to a good start for the school year, kids have their own anxieties about making new friends, dealing with peer pressure, and possibly having to deal with bullies. Most parents know their kids may experience some form of bullying they really aren't sure what to do about it.
Bullying is receiving a lot of attention nowadays. The statistics are that up to 85% of our kids experience verbal, physical or cyber bullying. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, have increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, have changes to their sleeping and eating patterns, and may even lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. We now also know that many of those effects can last well into adulthood. What most parents don’t know is that most kids are unlikely to tell their parents they are being bullied. This is true for our students at 3T Karate in San Antonio as well.
During this block of martial arts instruction we will be working with our karate students on how to handle the issue of bullying. Before we can equip our kids karate classes with the skills to handle bullying they first have to know what it is and what it is not. Very often we find, especially with our younger karate students that they misunderstand what bullying is. They often believe that if someone says something mean to them, calls them a name, or just disagrees with them in general that the person is being a bully. It is very important to make the distinction that for something to be bullying it must be:
C) happen repeatedly
We recommend discussing this with your kids so they understand the difference between normal social interactions where people disagree and actual bullying. While eating dinner or driving in the car we recommend asking your children questions and having discussions about these interactions. Ask questions like…
If someone cuts in front of you in line one time is that bullying? (No)
If they cut in front of you every day in line is that bullying? (Maybe)
What if they get mad at you and call you a name during a game? (No)
What if they go out of their way to find you and call you names in front of other people? (Yes)
Is it bullying if they hit you or push you? (Yes)
Is it bullying if they make fun of the clothes you are wearing? (Maybe)
Before we can give our karate kids the skills and strategies they need to handle bullies at school, they first need to be able to identify when bullying is actually happening. Sometimes people just behave badly. That doesn't make them a bully. If they do it repeatedly with the intention of being hurtful, that's a different story. Learning to discern between bad behavior and bullying is an important distinction for kids in their social skills development.
During our karate mat chats next week we will be teaching our martial arts students the Talk - Tell - Tackle strategy. Tune in to next week's post for more information.
PENNY L. PITASSI