Do you suspect your child is being bullied? It's a fact! We've all been bullied! I think we can all agree that being bullied isn't fun, nor is it good for our child's self esteem. How can you spot the warning signs of bullying? How can you talk about it with your child? What plan of action can be developed to defend against a bully? Although the subject of bullying is far more in-depth than this article, the following plan of action will help provide you with some helpful tools to combat bullying in what seems to be an epidemic in our schools.
Signs of Bullying
It's important to note that not all children will show signs of bullying. But please be observant of your child and notice any changes in their behaviour. One of the best ways to stay informed is to keep the lines of communication open and positive. Check in regularly and let them know you are always there to help them no matter what the problem. Always be prepared to listen.
How to Talk about Bullying
What to do when Confronted by a Bully
Unfortunately, the odds are high that at some point in our lives we will need to physically defend ourselves, especially when we are children. Children are still developing coping mechanisms to deal with conflict. As such, when children can't communicate verbally, it is natural for them to act out physically. It is likely that if a bully is verbally abusive then he/she will eventually become physically abusive. Now that you've taught your children what to do if confronted verbally by a bully, wouldn't it then make sense for children to also be prepared physically if reasoning with a bully fails?
Taekwon-do for Self Defense
Taekwon-do is much more than kicking and punching. Taekwon-do is a discipline developed to cultivate the mind and body on the foundation of moral culture. Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit, are the tenets of Taekwon-do. Students are taught respect, physical fitness, body awareness and camaraderie in a fun and safe atmosphere. Developing the mind and body together utilizing the benefits of Taekwon-do are imperative when combating the verbal and physical assaults of a bully.
Benefits of Taekwon-do against Bullying
So you want a black belt? That's awesome! I know, it's scary to be physically awkward in front of a group of strangers, but whatever your reasons may be, self-defence, flexibility, physical fitness, competition or family fun, I can assure you that the road will be difficult yet extremely rewarding.
So why start? The answers can be quite personal. Like most of us, selecting any martial art can be challenging because our knowledge base is what we see in movies, TV and social media. Some people see the intense physical fitness as a way to lose weight and become faster, stronger and more flexible. Others see a black belt as a personal achievement while families see it as an activity they can do together. These are all great reasons to join a martial art.
So which one is the best? When people ask me that question, I simply reply "...all of them". This is true. Whether it be Karate, Ju-jitsu, Boxing, Kung-fu or Taekwon-do, I would suggest that ALL martial arts are extremely beneficial for personal growth and wellbeing. But I would suggest that choosing a martial art school boils down to THREE factors:
1. Personal and physical goals.
2. Instructors Legitimacy.
3. Student/Instructor relationship.
So now that you have determined what it is you are looking to achieve within a martial art, the important question now is which instructor/school? You see how I put instructor in front of school? The instructor is a clear representation of how the school will run therefore a deciding factor.
As an instructor of 24 years, I all too often see wannabe instructors who lack experience, technique and maturity as the caregivers of students. They are more concerned with rank and making money than spreading true knowledge that is helpful to their students. White belts don't truly know what a black belt is or should be, they only have a vague understanding based on various media. It's a shame that anyone (and I mean ANYONE, trust me I've seen it) can purchase a black belt, falsify a black belt instructor certificate, tailor a fancy uniform, secure a community centre and be responsible for the growth and safety of children. Unfortunately this happens more so than not. So how can you find out if an instructor is legitimate or not? Here are a few simple questions to ask:
1. Do you have liability insurance? If yes, can I get proof please. If no, leave.
2. What federation/organization are you affiliated with and how can I verify your rank?
3. Who is your instructor and/or mentors and how can I contact them?
4. Would you be against a criminal background check? If yes, run.
If the instructor takes offence to any of the above questions then perhaps this is where the 'red flags' will start to flutter. A good instructor will be more than happy to accommodate appropriate information to prospective students.
If you have selected Taekwon-do as your martial art then you will start as a white belt. The definition of white belt is 'Innocence, as that of someone who has no previous knowledge of Taekwon-do'. So as a beginner you are putting 100% trust in your instructors ability to educate you safely and truthfully. Within our Taekwon-do Federation (I.T.F. International Taekwon-do Federation) we believe that the instructor will adhere to a strict code of conduct. It is just as important, if not more so, that the instructor be held accountable for his/her actions for the wellbeing of the students. I would suggest that success in any martial art will be imminent only if a mutual respect is practiced between student and instructor in a fun and safe environment. Instructors should be approachable, empathetic, unbiased, polite, sincere and above all respectful as he/she is setting the example for others.
Thanks for reading!
Mr. Robert Scott, VI Dan