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Richard Wilkinson

Bullies and how to deal with them

Disclaimer:  Let me start by saying I know that some people will have issues with what I will say.  PLease remember it is your choice whether or not you follow this advice.  This note does not mean that this is what I teach all children.  This note is just what I think about the whole bullying process and the lessons that I have taught my own children about bullying.  I teach these concepts in my martial arts academy.  I beleive that every family needs to set their 'family policy' about how to deal with such things.  I teach them what a bully is and why they behave the way they do.

How I View Children and Their development....

I view children's brains as little computers and I am a computer programmer.  My job as an educator/instructor is to program things that will benefit that child in the long run.  My goal is to contribute to raising fine upstanding members of society.  I program life skills...courtesy, honesty, self control, discipline and responsiblity.  I program the desire to explore what their person best is..NOT because a teacher or coach told them to...but because they want to know how awesome they are for themselves.  I program strength and courage...the willingness to try.  I want them to have a 'CAN DO' attitude.  I want them to be empowered and not feel like a victim in any circumstance.  I want them to be strong mentally and physically.  I want them to be nice but I also want them to stand up when it's necessary for what is right and what is good and what is beneficial to their family first and then society.  Which leads me to bullying....

Bullies.....

The press and so called 'experts' have painted a deceptive picture of what bullying actually is (in my opinion).   Bullying, to me,  is a physical thing. It is based on unwanted touch or aggressive behavior.  I have taught my kids that people can 'say' whatever they want (because we live in a free country)....they just can't lay their hands on you.  As humans, we get to choose how we feel about what is said or done and we get to choose how we react to what is said or done.  To me, it's more beneficial to children to understand that they can choose how someone makes them feel.  It is more beneficial to empower children to decide how they will feel about anything than to let their emotions control their thought process.  I think they should let their thoughts control their emotions and reactions rather than emotions control their thoughts and reactions.  As parents we can train them on controlling themselves more effectively.  We can influence how they perceive the world.  Like I said earlier....their minds are little computers and we are cumputer programmers.

Pivot Points

A pivot point is a moment in time that sets a precedent in a persons life and that precedent creates a new direction for that person.  For instance, when your child breaks a rule you have an opportunity to actually be a parent and set a precedent.  Some use time out...some use spanking...some use taking a toy away....any way you discipline your child is fine as long as it gets the result or behavior that you were trying to get.  The point is that... in that moment (when your child breaks a rule), what YOU do sets a new direction for your child and a pivot point was used.  If your discipline was effective, your child takes on a new, more useful/beneficial behavior.  If your discpline was not effective, your child takes on a new less useful/beneficial behavior.  Either way, in the moment that you get to use your discipline you have the opportunity to move your child in a new direction.  THAT is a pivot point.  That is THE moment you get to program your child's computer.

Back to Bullies...

When your child comes home from school and tells you that he is being bullied, first you need to find out exactly what is happening.  Schools today are telling our kids that if anyone makes them feel bad or sad, they are being bullied.  I just don't buy that.  From a liablity point of view the school HAS to view it that way from fear of potential lawsuits.  I do not think that it serves our children very well, though.  That thinking promotes victimhood.  I don't know about you..but I don't want my kid to ever feel like a victim.  I want them to always be strong mentally and physically.  I want them to operate from a position of power and not of fear. 

So, Here is what I have taught my own children and what I teach the children that train at my academy.

If a person says or does anything that you view as bullying...

1.  Look them in the eye and state firmly, 'LEAVE ME ALONE'.  They can say 'I do not want to be your friend' or 'I don't like you'.  Although, I never taught my kids to say the' I don't like you' or 'I do not want to be your friend'.  I just wanted them to take the first stand.  I wanted them to feel strong enough and to know it was ok to tell someone to 'Leave me alone'. 

2.  Get parents and teachers involved.  My kids were always required to get as many adults involved as possible.  This teaches them that they have to go through the proper channels to get things done.  The needed to tell me and mom and teachers and principles and everyone that could possibly intervene.  There needed to be a history established that 'I am having problems with that kid'.  A good school will handle everything at that point....normally.  As parents, you should write letters to the administration informing them that there is a problem.  You should have establish a 'history' as well that the school was informed.

3.  Because of the true nature of a true bully, they are pretty sneaky.  Parents and teachers aren't always around when something is happening.  At this point, I wanted my kids to be empowered to protect themselves.  We protect ourselves from words by controlling how we feel about those words and we can almost always walk away from words.  BUT when there are the laying on of hands...a push...or anything else that is physical...we have to let our kids know that they can protect themselves.  So, if the bully every touched my child, my child was instructed to make a correct fist and punch him in the nose.  Why the nose?  It causes the tear ducts to produce tears and gives the appearance of crying.  The nose has blood vessels that bust easily and causes the nose to bleed a little.  Other kids will see the tears and the small amount of blood coming from the bullies' nose.  Word will get out and normally your child will never have to do it again. 

This sets a precedent.  This lets the child know that, as a family, you are all on the same team.  This lets the child know that family rules supercede the rules of organizations that are fearful of lawsuits. 

Normally, it never makes it to the punch in the nose part.  Kids can sense things that we are not as sensitive to.  When the bully sees the 'I am not backing down' look in your child's eye, normally they stop what they are doing.  Your child having that conviction in his body language and that confidence in is eyes normally makes the bully back down and nothing happens.  My point is that I think parents should empower their kids and discourage fear. 

Most parents that I talk to agree with my philosophy on this subject.  Some disagree.  I have done martial arts for 25 years and can say with certainty that kids who operate without fear tend to make better grades and become finer members of society than kids that operate from a position of fear.  AFter all...insecurity is what creates bullies in the first place.

Again, this is just my opinion. 

I hope this was helpful.

July 30, 2013