Recently, I was asked by a friend of mine to recommend a school for her to take her son, who had been bullied at school for the last year and a half. I applaud her for taking the initiative to getting her son some help–since her son’s father doesn’t seem to be interested in doing anything about it.
I have a few things to say about childhood bullying, and then I want to share with you my recommendations for a good school for the purpose of stopping bullying behavior. After all, there is a difference in what criteria you would use to find a school, and it depends on what you are looking to get out of a school.
Understanding the bully
I’m no psychologist, but I know a few things about people. The kind of person who bullies others is not “insecure”, like most people would think–he is self-assured. But to a point. The bully is confident that he can defend himself, but he only looks for people who project being defenseless to push around. That is why you don’t see the bully trying to prey on the popular kid (popular kids usually don’t look they can fight, but they have strength in numbers) or other bullies. No, for them, it’s a weakness thing. They get pleasure in pushing around the weak, those who have no “back up”, the kids who seem like they would accept it. The victims are not always small frail kids–a victim is nothing more than a person who won’t stand up for himself. So, for that reason, even a big strong kid can be bullied by a small, ratty boy.
As I stated, the kid being bullied isn’t the victim because he is incapable of defending himself; he is merely chosen because he won’t defend himself. You can teach him drills and defenses all day long, but if the boy (or man) refuses to stand up to the bully–it will never stop. But why does a kid accept this kind of behavior? Are all kids who stand up for themselves trained in self-defense?
No. The type of person who stands up for himself simply values himself and his desires more than he is willing to please. Some kids will give up a toy he wants to play with because he doesn’t want to say “no”. Others will give up a toy because he is afraid to refuse another kid’s demand. But on the other hand, you have some kids who will put your eye out trying to keep you from taking his toy. If you are to stop the bully from getting his way with your kid, you must find a way to turn your kid into the selfish brat who has no problem saying “NO”.
What can be done about it
That being said, ending bullying behavior is more of an internal change than an external one. You can stop bullying without learning a single self-defense move, just by changing the way your child thinks and interacts with his peers. I believe that by rough housing with your kids (male and female), wrestling, sparring, slap boxing, challenging your kids to a game of hoops and trying to kick their butts even with a dance competition–you are developing that sense of indominatability in your children. You are teaching them how to overcome another, and helping them get a sense of comfort with competition. You are getting them accustomed to going one-on-one with another person and striving to outdo him or her, even to defeat their opponent. Your kids are learning how to struggle to get to the head of the pact. The kid who wants to be the fastest sprinter, the king of the hill, the best dancer in the house–is not going to accept another kid trying to get over on him. Bullying is not always physical, by the way. It can be in the form of teasing, insults (you’re ugly/fat/talk funny/etc.), or by ignoring your child (don’t be his friend/you’re not going to be on my team). When you give your kids a sense of self-worth, few external factors will ruin your kids’ day.
I would also like to add that your child must feel completely comfortable with coming to you to tell you about his problems, and he must know that you are in his corner and will do something. My son had a problem with a bully when he was 6, and he came home the first time it happened and told me that another boy was pushing him and “being mean” to him. The next day, I went to the school with a vengeance, and demanded a meeting with the boy’s father (which they denied) and demanded action from the school about the bullying. I was not going to accept anything less, and if they didn’t stop the behavior, I was going to confront the parents and their child myself. That foolishness was dealt with immediately and my son never had a problem with it again. Regardless of what kind of school you put your child in, if he or she feels alone in dealing with problems, they will always be a target for bullies.
In part II, we will discuss what you want in a school to solve this problem.
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