For parents and schools alike, bullying is an issue with no easy fix. But understanding the difference between bad behavior and true bullying is an important place to start. Kids, like anyone, can behave badly. That action becomes bullying when the behavior is both recurring and harmful either mentally or physically. And while parents, coaches and teachers should be leading by example and doing their best to keep everyone safe, it may not be enough. So how about giving children the tools that will help keep them from becoming victims of bullying? Yeah, we’re talking about Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but it may not be in the way you’re thinking. Here’s how BJJ really prevents bullying.
the confidence builder
Bullies tend to go for the easiest target, the kids who are lacking in confidence. Common behavior in children or adults who lack confidence includes avoiding eye contact, adopting a protective, hunched shoulder stance, and trying to blend into the background to avoid calling attention to themselves.
How can BJJ help? It isn’t by changing your child’s personality. There’s nothing wrong with being shy or introverted, but having confidence in yourself is important for everyone. When children start BJJ, they do what we all do – watch, try, fail, practice, succeed. Combine that with the support of their instructor and classmates as they work toward a goal, such as learning a new skill, and you have the breeding ground of confidence. BJJ also teaches the importance of eye contact, of respect, and of learning to trust yourself. These are things that apply just as critically off the mat, and they’re evident in the behavior of our BJJ students. Children who are learning BJJ are being taught how to solve problems, and that builds confidence too.
Another easy target for a bully is the loner, the child who doesn’t relate well to a group dynamic.
How can BJJ help? In BJJ, there are multiple dynamics at work. As a class, children watch and listen to the instructor before being paired off to practice. Children who struggle to “fit in” have the advantage of a one-on-one dynamic with other children, as well as a shared goal – drilling. Kids learn how to work together in pairs and as a class in a non-threatening way, and camaraderie is a natural follow-up. When kids begin to feel more comfortable with themselves in that kind of setting, it becomes easier to find your place in the group and begin making friends.
the self-esteem boost
Fearful, uncomfortable kids often experience low self-esteem, a kind of calling card for bullies.
How can BJJ help? It teaches balance, because in every class there will be wins and losses. And loss is what makes accomplishment so valuable. The saying goes, you either win or you learn, and it’s especially true in BJJ. That cycle of growth and learning builds self-esteem by showing a child that believing in their own ability and putting in the effort really does pay off.
opening the lines of communication
One of the biggest weapons a child can have against a bully, besides confidence, is strong communication with his or her parents.
How can BJJ help? BJJ instructors here at Guerrilla encourage communication in class and at home. Our students are taught to ask questions on the mat, and to reach out to their parents if they’re dealing with difficult situations at school. The lesson is that we, the adults, are here for our kids, and the importance of that can’t be overstated.
taking care of business
And then there’s the literal self-defense aspect. In addition to the psychological benefits, children taking BJJ are learning about control and submission. In the event of a confrontation, a child who trains in BJJ has the tools and understanding to defend themselves, and to do it with confidence.
So, is BJJ right for your child? Remember, size and athletic ability are secondary to experience and technique, and being able to pay attention in class and follow directions is what really matters. If bullying is an issue that concerns you, enrolling your child in BJJ may be a great idea. Check out our getting started offer now, and we invite you to meet our instructors and sit in on a kids’ class to see how it works.