Martial Arts for Bully and Bullied

School is back in session, and sadly, for many kids and their parents, this means bullying season is in full swing. How can you help your child, whether she’s bullied or is the bully, cope with aggression this year? Martial arts can help kids and families on both sides of the bullying fence because of the core principles they teach.

Let’s take a look at the bullied child first. Children who are bullied are chosen by bullies because they are easy targets. They seem weak, lack confidence, walk with their heads down and eyes averted out of fear, and go out of their way to avoid the bully. These kids need work on their self-esteem and the face they present to the world, something martial arts instills from the beginning. The kids are taught that everyone, including themselves, deserves to be treated with respect. A good martial arts instructor will teach your child how to discipline her behavior in a way that does not provoke bullies or invite unwanted attention. But the most important thing an instructor will teach is the element of respect, for the bullied child herself, and the bully who torments her.

Bullies often behave the way they do because they have failed to learn what appropriate behavior is. In a martial arts class, they will be taught respect for others, but also how to express their own feelings without violence or intimidation. This consistent message and structure are crucial to changing the bullying child’s behavior. Once the bully understands that she deserves respect not because she instills fear in others, but because she is intrinsically worthy of respect, she will begin to see herself and others differently. Her self-confidence must be nurtured in order to make this happen, and a good martial arts instructor will recognize this and engage her appropriately.

Martial arts is not just about self-defense. It is ultimately about self-respect and compassion for others. If you are dreading another year of behavior and discipline issues at school, consider a martial arts program. Your child’s self-esteem will thank you.