You do your absolute best to provide the best life for your children. Just think….you work long hours, start a business, go to school, move to a better neighborhood, enroll them in “good” schools and you teach them values that you believe will serve them well later on in life.
Well, welcome to the jungle! Others including their kids may not share your belief. So, here’s where you start to get ticked off. All that hard work, time, money spent to help them avoid the crappy side of life has come to an end. Who can you thank? All thanks to a classmate or other people. Yep! You spent 5, 10, 15 years+ helping to build your child’s self-esteem and your friendly neighborhood bully destroyed their smile, confidence, self-esteem or their will to live all in one blow.
Here’s where you secretly wish you could land a Walker Texas Ranger roundhouse kick to the neck.
So, what do you do when your child comes home and tells you they are being picked on? Quiz time:
a. Go to the school, yell at teachers and threaten to sue
b. Arm your kid with 5 wet noodles for protection & encourage them to bite the bully
c. Advise your kid to “be friends” with the bully
d. Tell them to ignore them
e. Advise them to tell a teacher
f. Suggest the Chuck Liddell knuckle sandwich and Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the ear
g. Revert back to your old ways and you personally go after the bully (Really?)
h. Listen, empower, restore, think strategically and execute a plan.
Your response will depend on how you were raised and your personal experiences.
Previous Attempts to Bully Ranard-
My experiences were like most inner city kids. I spent early childhood days living in the Eastside of Buffalo, NY. (Fun place) Showered with gangs, drugs, gun & physical violence on a daily basis. Punches and kicks vs. hugs and hellos. I personally became numb to violence. It’s was normal. It’s a way of life. Everyone fought! Moms, dads, kids, and heck… even grandmas were getting down and dirty. Go GRANDMA!!!
The situation went 1 of 2 ways for me.
A. I go to class, kids talk trash and we would fight. Pretty poetic. Bullying ended on the spot! My parents would get a call from the school advising I was in “another” fight and my mother (thank goodness) had to pick me up. Here’s where I learned to be smart and avoid the wrath of my father…. I would have my story lined up on why I reacted the way I did towards the other student. We have to teach kids damage control. What and how you say can mean the difference of being suspended/expelled or being let go without any punishments.
Now, option B. was not really an option for kids like us. Ignore them. Ignoring would lead to a bad beating for the rest of my school days as I witnessed with others. The turn the other cheek option, let’s be friends, blah blah blah meant you were a punk and it gave EVERYONE the right or option to pick on you. In addition, option B created more problems as there were too many kids eager to show how tough they were. Don’t ignore it. Address the issue. FAST!
Did you know moment:
I fought 3/5 days at school and at least twice a week in our friendly gang infested neighborhood. I felt I did not have the option of “talking it out” and telling someone. We had a saying….”snitches get stitches. You could not run and tell anyone. Otherwise, you were labeled and more people would come after you. You had to fight. So, we moved out from the inner city to the suburbs. Wow! what a difference. The rules changed. You can’t just hit people for running their mouth? CULTURE SHOCK!!!! So now, I’m in a town voted safest place to live in America. A town where people fought with words. Interesting concept! Okay, I’ll buy it. School starts and the kids are trying to crack insults to me. I would often stand up and causally walk towards them. WHACK! “Hey! What the heck man?!” I recall advising them to continue running their mouth and I will shut it for them. Well, that was the end of that “trash talking.” Soon, I developed a reputation for hitting people for attempting to bully or say anything bad to or about me. Now, why in the world would I go on about me fighting, hitting people, showing little restraint or concern for others? I personally know bullies and aggressors. I know what it takes to stop them. I believe I could have handled this a different way. So here you go. What I tell our kids.
- Self respect- Talk to your kids about loving and respecting themselves. Make sure they know NO ONE is allowed to disrespect them. NO ONE!
- Positive Reinforcement- Praise them whenever they stick up for themselves. High five them when they do it with you, siblings, their friends, unknown kids. Get the momentum started.
- Communicate- Develop master communicators. Self-Offense. Stop the fight before it begins. Be the puppet master. Your child should use assertive communication to influence the bully’s behavior. We love talking about it. 🙂 Be the opposite of the bully. They want to fight? It’s your job to influence them to not fight. Learn how to sell your ideas so they move to violence. Talk your way out of a bad situation.
- Empower- teach the skills they will need to protect themselves. Not all skills are created equal. This is important. Imagine, a fight starts….do you want your child punching and kicking the other child (Mauy Thai, boxing, kickboxing, karate, Tkd) or do you want them controlling and stopping the fight? (Jiu-Jitsu) Two types of Jiu-Jitsu (Gracie Jiu-Jitsu=Street applicable and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu=sports oriented) Both are good. We teach both, but specialize in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. You have options.
- Engage Others- the business world teaches us that we work as a team. You child should build a team of allies. Engage their friends, teachers, you as parents, the school officials and anyone who will listen. Start now! It’s great to have a network or a support system of allies if and when a fight happens.
- Self-Esteem Protection- Enforce the need to protect their self-esteem/confidence- This is critical! Stick up for yourself! A black eye heals. Self-esteem issues will last a lifetime if not treated. Bad news. Think about how many opportunities are lost due to a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence. Do you want that for your children? Let them work it out and guide them. You won’t be there to protect them all the time. They need to learn how to cope and communicate. The world is awesome, but filled with some bad eggs. They need to learn how to deal with these people. Don’t interfere unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.
- JAG-Offense vs. Self-Defense. Jag-offense is about being pro-active vs. reactive (self-defense) JAG-Offense teaches people about having situational awareness, looking at the environment, the way people look at you, their choice of words, their distance and acts of aggression to determine if and when they should engage in a fight or flight situation.
Bullying stinks! It’s not going away. It’s taking shape in so many forms. Online, work place, school, among your friends, at the store, etc. EVERYWHERE! Don’t try and protect your kids from it. Empower them. Teach them to stop it before it happens. Teach them to not be a target. End it before it gets out of hand. Are you a little clueless on the topic? No worries. We are not. Theory is good for movies. Your child will need real bully test solutions from people who have been there and done that personally.
Seriously, engage in open communication often. You never know when or how long it’s been happening. Ask your child about their day. What’s making them happy or sad. Ask, who’s making you laugh at school. Who makes you sad or mad? Those are easy conversation starters. We will start making videos to help out. All the best.
Gracie Lake Norman