The truth is that bullies have a lot in common with their victims. It’s rare for a child who’s truly self-confident to engage in bullying behavior. In fact, it’s their lack of self-confidence that makes kids into bullies.
Bullying is an effort to feel superior. When a child lacks confidence or has no sense of self-worth, they sometimes take it out on other kids. They worry that they’re not normal and they resort to aggression because they don’t know what else to do.
This is a complex issue, but I want to tell you a story to illustrate how martial arts instruction can help bullies change their behavior.
A mother came to me distraught because she’d had a phone call from her son’s school. He’d bullied another kid on the playground, and her child was suspended from school as a result. She didn’t understand why her son had done it, and she wanted to know if we could help.
After I talked to her about some of the core tenets of martial arts – things like respect and self-control, she signed her son up for a class. At first, we had some challenges with him in class. Bullies don’t change overnight, and it took a while for him to learn.
But, after just a couple of months of instruction, she came to see me again. She was in tears – but this time, they were tears of happiness. She’d just had a parent-teacher conference, and her son’s teacher spent their time together describing the remarkable changes she’d seen in his behavior since he started studying with us.
She said he was more focused in class. He was respectful of her and other students, and on the playground, he demonstrated self-control. He’d even stood up to another bully on behalf of a fellow student.
Every child is different, but I’ve seen stories like this many times. When kids learn to respect themselves and others, they no longer feel the need to bully. Instead, they grow in self-confidence and learn to trust themselves.