Category Archives: Bullying

Bullying pt 6 – The 4 Types of Bullying

Bullying can largely be divided into 4 types of bullying, each working in a different way but in a very similar way.

Physical – This is probably the most obvious form of bullying, and the one that is most likely to get dealt with by the authority figures. This includes hitting, kicking, tripping, throwing things, stealing or destroying a persons possessions, etc.

Physical bullying is the most obvious and the one a lot of people will take the most serious.

Verbal – This is another form of bullying which can be just as damaging to a person emotionally. This includes things like name calling, insults, taunting, homophobic and racist comments, etc.

Verbal bullying is sometimes met with a “Sticks and stones…” sort of thinking, which at times may deter the behaviour, but verbal bullying can definitely cause serious damage to a persons mental and emotional well-being.

Social – Social bullying tends to effect older kids and adults more. This includes things such as gossiping, spreading rumors, leaving people out of group things intentionally and visibly, and otherwise attempting to hurt a persons social reputation and relationships.

Social bullying affects middle schools, high schools and work places. Social bullying can be very hard to deal with at times, and in some cases attempting to disprove or suppress things can lead to the opposite effect.

Because it attempts to draw from a herd mentality it can be very hard to deal with at times.

Cyber bullying – This is very closely related to social bullying, and could even be considered a extension of it. However the internet has allowed for anonymity, permanence and at a potential scale that doesn’t occur in “real world” interactions. Posts online can spread and follow a person anywhere and practically indefinitely.

Bullying pt 5 – An Under-Reported Problem

Bullying is something that happens in schools far more then it is reported.

The thing to remember is bullying is a “power” behaviour. It is the bully making the victim feel powerless in order to raise themselves up.

As such victims often don’t like talking about it, they may feel ashamed or embarrassed. Bullies often target things perceived as flaws in the victim, and talking about it would be talking about their own perceived flaws and weaknesses.

They may also be concerned that talking about it will make it worse, that they will be then bullied for being a tattle-tale or a snitch. That they will be perceived as being weak for seeking out help.

They may also fear losing privileges if they do report it. For example that telling adults about online bullying may cause them to lose access to online activities.

The important thing is to keep in mind that bullying might happen and go completely unreported. Bullying is a problem, but it is not one that can’t be dealt with, however kids often need help in doing so and it is up to the adults to watch for signs and keep open and non-judgemental lines of communication.

And remember, bullying is a power and control behaviour. Solving it involves giving power back to the kid, or rather reminding them that they still have it and helping them use it. The best solutions are when they have options and make the decisions on their own. This doesn’t mean don’t help, but it does mean that they should be involved in the solution and not have more power and control taken from them in an attempt to solve it.

Bullying pt 4 – The “CALM” Rule

How a child deals with bully like behaviour will help effect how much bullying they are likely to be a target of.  Responding to bully like behaviour in a “CALM” way can help shut down bullying early and prevent them from becoming a target.

CALM in this case stands for “be Calm, be Assertive, Look them in the eyes and Mean it” and can provide a basis for teaching children how to interact with a bully.

Be Calm – Bullies feed off reactions.  If they are able to get you worked up or get a reaction out of you they are successful.  Picking on someone that doesn’t get a reaction is noun to them and they are more likely to move on.  When you get nervous you tend to talk faster, so practice speaking slow and be mindful of how you talk.

Be Assertive – Bullying is a power game, it’s an attempt to knock someone else down in order to feel in control and powerful.  Being assertive shows them that you are still in control.

Look them in the eye – similar to being assertive, bullying is about balance of power.  Looking someone in the eye is one of our primal power plays.  Practice looking someone in eyes, staring contests are a common children game, but they also teach how to appear confident.

Mean it – Don’t say things you don’t mean, and mean what you say.  If you say “back off or I will do X”, it needs to be something that you can follow through on.  If it isn’t, and they call you on it you lose credibility.


Bullying pt 3 – Kids need more then one circle

One of the simplest defences to bullying is making sure kids have more then one circle of peers.

They have one at school, which is their primary one.  It’s one they spend 10 months of the year with,  5-days a week, 6.5 hours a day.  If this circle turns toxic for them at all it can be easy for them to think it is them that is the problem, at least if it is the only circle of peers they are a part of.

Kids that participate in year round activities 2-3 times a week have a built in buffer.  If school turns they have a place where they can fit in and be a part of a peer group that hasn’t turned against them.  This can help keep them from thinking they are the problem, and help them bounce back from things in other environments.

Confidence is really the key to beating bullying, both in the victim and the bully.  Unfortunately confidence is sometimes slow to build and easy to destroy.  Having more then one circle provides a safety net to bullying behaviour destroying confidence.  Once that confidence starts to crack it is far easier to end up a target of bullying, or even becoming the bully in an attempt to rebuild it through knocking others down.

Bullying pt 2- On Fighting Back

Fighting back is a often debated aspect of dealing with a bully.

The case against it is that it can lead to escalation, making the situation worse for the bully.  The bully is often larger, sometimes multiple bullies, and with the possibility of a weapon being carried at older ages can prevent a real threat.

Telling a scared child to simply hit the bully in the face could very easily make the situation worse.

That said the right to self-defence is something that should never be taken away from a child, and in some cases may be the only remaining choice at a given time.

Children should be taught to use other options whenever possible, and not to escalate the situation whenever possible.

So step 1 should be tell the adults in charge.  Same as in the adult world, we attempt to bring in law enforcement or security when there is a problem.  Taking matters into their own hands when not necessary can escalate a situation.

The next thing they need to try and do, which can be hard for anyone, is to ignore the problem and not respond.  Bullies feed off of the reactions, if they get upset or worked up the bully was successful and will continue.  If they leave the bully hanging with deflection or ignoring them the bully will end up looking silly and hopefully move on.

But when a situation becomes an assault and the adults in charge are unable to, or unavailable at the time the right to self-defence of any person should never be taken away.

But without giving them the tools to do so is unfair to the victim.  Martial arts training can definitely be one avenue to provide those tools, as well as provide the confidence to avoid the situation in the first place.

The other problem with a “fight back” strategy is not all bullying is physical, so much of it is done through words, both in person and nowadays through the internet.  “Defend yourself” doesn’t work quite as well when the bully is behind a screen or across the play ground.

Physical self-defence skills are a part of the answer, but not the whole answer.  The confidence from having them can do a lot to prevent being a victim in the first place, and be prepared to act in defence when the bullying is in the form of assault, but kids need more tools then just boxing and wrestling.

Was confidence / bullying a problem last school year?

The school year is over, and unfortunately for many kids that means relief, a break from problems with other kids.

It might be easy to take this time and breath a sigh of relief for the 2-months break, but September will come all too fast for kids that have had problems with bullies and confidence at school.

With this break from the things that drag kids confidence down in school it is the perfect time to build it up.

For the next 2-months there is a opportunity for all the kids that experienced confidence and bullying issues to take 10 steps forward, without being dragged 9 steps back.

Think about it, if you had a leaky roof that was causing you problems and you knew that you had 2-months of dry weather ahead would you breath a sigh of relief and ignore the issue until the next rain, or take the opportunity to patch the roof up (which is much easier to do when it’s not raining)?

It is far easier to deal with things when they are not in a problem state then when you are dealing with everything head on at the same time.

So if your child had problems last year in school, now is the best time to get them involved in something that will help them address those issues before having to go back to them. Martial arts is one that I feel very strongly for and have seen make a world of difference for many kids, but it’s not the only option. There are so many great camps, leadership building activities and other options available to kids that there is something for everyone.

That said keep the issue in mind when looking for a solution. If the issue is social (confidence, bullying, group behaviour, etc) the solution needs to be social as well. A child with trouble interacting with peers is not going to solve that through individual activities where they do not have to interact with peers.

Bullying pt 1: What is Bullying?

Bullying is a subject that comes up far too often, and I’ve been fortunate enough to attend workshops with some of the top experts on the subject in North America. So hopefully this will be helpful to some of the parents out there. This is a pretty big subject, and one that I am going to split into a series of posts rather then one massive one.

The unfortunate truth is the problem is one that often goes unreported.  Part of that is failing to recognize what it is, and that there are ways to deal with it.  4 out of 5 cases of bullying go unreported to teachers / parents and everyone.

First, it is important to define what it is we mean when we say “bullying”, there are other behaviours that sometimes get confused with bullying, but bullying is a defined sort of behaviour. This is important as how we handle and teach childrento handle these different sorts of problems varies as well.

For something to be considered bullying it must be both intentional and repetitive. The behaviour must be aggressive, and with a (real or perceived) unequal balance of power.

Bullying can be physical, but it is mostly psychological.

Bullying behaviours is an attempt to take power from others, building themselves through knocking others down. It includes things such as:

  • Hurting others feelings
  • Public humiliation
  • Spreading rumours / gossip
  • Name calling
  • physically hurting them
  • etc.

Someone who is annoying, but unintentionally is not using bullying behaviour.   With younger kids especially some have a hard time keeping hands to themselves, or respecting other boundaries.  But without intent, it is not “bullying” and requires a different approach.

If someone is intentionally rude, but without consistence and repetitive behaviour this is also not bullying.  Bullying requires deliberate and repetitive behaviour designed to harm others.

Kids often don’t want to talk about being bullied, and find it embarrassing and shameful.  The things that receiving that sort of treatment tend to invoke.   This can often result in behaviour that comes across as disrespectful or acting out.  Faking sick, not wanting to do anything with a group, self isolating behaviour, talking back, etc.
In fact a lot of bullies where once vic
tims of bullying, and the bullying behaviour becomes a way of trying to take back the power that was taken from them.

It is important to remember that people that bully aren’t necessarily bad people.  They are often people that are hurting and lacking real confidence.  They attempt to coup with this through pushing others down to make themselves feel bigger.

It provides a short term and immediate sense of power, but it doesn’t help with real happiness.  Once bullying becomes a habit it is like an addiction, it is hard for them to have true friends and hold onto relationships that matter, and as they transition into adult head it will be hard to hold a job.  Bullying behaviour is an addiction, it hurts the people around the bully, but it also hurts them.

That is in a nut shell what bullying is, and is not.  Stay tuned for part 2 and we can start looking at how to deal with bullying.

“Done With Bullying” recap

Today we ran our first “Done With Bullying” seminar, and had a great time.

For those that couldn’t make it, here are some of the key points you can discuss with your child:

What is Bullying?

Bullying is when someone tries to deliberately hurt other people with words or actions. It is a behavior, not a person. Bullying is mostly psychological and only sometimes physical.  In order to be considered bullying it intentional and repetitive.

People who bully try to take other people’s power from them. Then they use this imbalance of power to try to harm others

Why do people bully?

The primary reasons people bully are:

  •  They are trying to fit in and feel that bullying is the way to do it.
  • They are trying to feel like more by making others feel like less.
  •  They are being bullied as well.

What should you do if you see someone else being bullied?

1. Get There First

If you suspect someone is about to be bullied simply getting there first can be enough to prevent it.  If you see a bully eyeing up a target go and talk to the target.  People are most vulnerable when they are alone, by getting there first you take away that vulnerability.

2. Step in and Take Charge

Bullying can often be stopped by taking charge.  Step in and tell the person to stop and that is often enough, bullies want to build themselves up through bullying, peer pressure can be used to stop it.

3. Distract and Redirect

If you are not able to take charge you can also distract and redirect the bully to put a end to it.  You can use language to remove the victim from the situation without directly stepping in.

4. Leave and Report

In some cases you may not be comfortable stepping in and confronting or interrupting the bully.  In those cases you should seek help by reporting the situation to someone who can stop it.  It is not tattling to get help, tattling is when your goal is only to get the person in trouble.

No one should have to put up with bullying and if you need help to stop it, ask.

How should you deal with bullying?

Rule 1 – Use Your Mind

Safe habits protect us in all aspects of life.  Looking before crossing a street, wearing a seat belt, etc.  Keeping yourself safe from bullies is no different, safe habits will help keep you safe.

When it comes to bullying safe habits means following some simple habits.  Things like carrying yourself with confidence, making a good first impression, being the first to introduce yourself to others, etc.

Rule 2 – Use Your Words

If you ever find yourself being bullied you often times can use your words to talk your way out of trouble.  C-A-L-M “C.A.L.M.” stands for: Cool down, Assert yourself, Look the bully in the eye, Mean it.

Rule 3 – Use Your Legs

f you are unable to talk yourself out of the situation, you try to ignore it and walk away if you can. Just pretend the bully is invisible. Try to look completely unfazed.

In cases where you are confronted by someone you are unlikely to see again it is often a good idea to run.  If it is someone you will see everyday this may not be a good idea compared to standing your ground though.

Rule 4 – Ask for Help

You are NOT a tattling if you ask for help. Tattling is when your motive is to get someone else in trouble. Reporting is when you let someone who can help you know that you (or another person) are being treated in a disrespectful manner. Most kids don’t want to be a tattletale. They are afraid that if they tell a parent or teacher about a bully or troublemaker, other kids will make fun of them.

You can ask for help in a way that does not reveal to the bully that you  reported them.  Reporting to a teacher that you have been having trouble with another person and asking if they can keep an eye on you as you are concerned about your safety will get you help without the bully knowing you got them in trouble.

Rule 5 – Defend Yourself

When all else fails, defend yourself.  A direct confrontation will very often put an end to the bullying, but it should be a last resort.

Put yourself in a defensive, but strong stance and directly call them out on it.  Something like “Are you trying to start a fight?”  or “You’re being a bully, now back off because I’m not going to put up with it!”

Often that will be enough to put a stop to it right there, but if not be ready to use physical force to defend yourself.  There are different levels of physical force, we used redirecting and off balancing, takedowns, pinning technique, pinning and threatening while asking for a promise to stop and finally using strikes.

Regardless, the situation should be immediately reported. If you feel things are going to lead to a confrontation speak with a parent before if you can.  Let them know what is going on and what you’ve tried, ask if you have there support if you are forced to defend yourself.

Thanks to all the participants, and we had a great time!


Confidence: A Cure for Bullying

Stop BullyingFirst published in the Fall / Winter edition of Family-TLC Magazine

Unfortunately back-to-school means back-to-bullying for far more children than any of us like to admit.  Bullying is a very real problem but, fortunately there is a solution.

Bullies target those that are easiest to bully, and the easiest target is the child lacks confidence and is least likely to stand up for themselves.  Unfortunately this is a hard thing to do for most kids, or even adults for that matter.

So the key is confidence; a person that is confident is far less likely to be targeted by a bully.  A child that can verbally, and if necessary, physically stand up for themselves is going to be more trouble for a bully who is looking to boast their own confidence at the expense of others.

So how do you help your child become bully proof?

  1. Praise everything.  Children hear far more negative statements then positive.  “Don’t do this”, “Don’t touch that”, “keep quiet”, etc. The general rule coaches learn is 3 positive statements for every negative one.  This is a good rule to carry out of the gym or off the field as well.  If your child is constantly being told they are good, and doing amazing they will become what they are told and gain the confidence of it.  To strengthen this effect, surround your child with other people and put them in activities where they will hear those same things from other sources.  The more different places they are hearing positive statements the stronger the effect.However the goal is not to simply praise for the sake of praising, it needs to be specific towards what you are trying to encourage.  Praise effort, attentiveness, focus and other traits you want to develop.
  2. Teach them “Verbal Judo”.   Must bullying can be stopped through words, saying the right thing at the right time.  Calling the bully on his statements and actions, making them hold responsibility for their actions.  Simply having the confidence to ask the bully to stop, or asking them why they are doing what they are doing.Speaking confidently and saying the right thing can make all the difference, both with bullies and in life.
  3. Teach them to help others.   Little things add up, and realizing that they have the ability to help others is a big part of being a confident person.  Teach them to open doors, help with the yard work, and volunteer in the community with you.  Lead by example and remember to thank them for what they do, even if it is small.Another great way to do this is have them working with younger kids in some regard.  The act of “teaching” others not only improves their knowledge of what they are teaching, but also builds their confidence in themselves.
  4. Give them the physical skills.  With bullies the ultimate threat is being beat up.  Bullies use the threat of violence as a way to keep power over others.  If that threat doesn’t frighten your child because they understand how to defend themselves. If they know, without question, through direct and repeated experience, that they are capable of protecting themselves. That they can control a bigger, stronger and older opponent because they do so every week against bigger, stronger and older (but less experienced) kids in a martial arts class, they will have the confidence in how they respond verbally because that fear won’t be there.

Martial Arts is only part of the answer though.  It can teach them to be physically stronger and confident in their ability to defend themselves.  It can teach them to stand in front of a class and perform.  But the real secret lies in the way the child is taught, not just in a martial arts gym, but everywhere they interact with leaders.

It’s also never too early to start, don’t wait until your child is a victim to teach them how not to be one.  A confident child is not only bully proof, but primed for being unstoppable in whatever they do.

Andrew Green is head coach at Innovative Martial Arts and can be reached at 204-505-2787, or through