Protect your child from school bullies

September 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Protect your kids from name calling, bullying and harassment. Show them how to project an attitude of confidence. Irene Van Der Zande, the author of "The KIDPOWER Book for Caring Adults" and executive director of KIDPOWER, shares some valuable advice.

1. Bullying and harassment.

-For Parents: Make sure that your child's school has clear strong rules about treating everyone with respect. Tell children that they should feel safe and respectful at school - and should treat others with safety and respect. Discuss specific examples about what this means. When possible, try to notice problems when they are small. Pay attention to changes in your child's behavior. Encourage children to tell you about what happens at school. Listen calmly without lecturing and help your child to come up with solutions. If possible, volunteer even a couple of hours a week in the classroom or school yard so that you can both help out and stay aware of potential problems at school. If something goes wrong, be prepared to advocate in a respectful powerful way for your child's well-being.

-For Children and Youth: There are many simple skills young people can use to help keep themselves safe from bullying, including being aware, calm, and confident (see #3 below for more details); knowing how to walk away or set a boundary; using your voice to get help and say what you need; speaking up for others; protecting yourself from name-calling (please see #2); being persistent in getting help; and knowing how to use physical self-defense as a last resort. Rehearsing how to handle problems with difficult or dangerous people will help to increase confidence, reduce anxiety, and build competence.

2. How can kids protect themselves from name calling and verbal attacks.

In an ideal world, people would always be kind to each other rather than being mean to each other. However, even people who really care about each other annoy and both each others sometimes.

Teach children how to set firm respectful boundaries with peers and other people they know - and have them practice what to do when other people are thoughtless, unkind, unfair, or even cruel. Explain that saying something mean back makes the problem bigger, not better.

For example, you can teach children how to protect themselves emotionally from insults.

One way to take the power out of hurting words by is saying them out loud and imagining throwing them away. Doing this physically and out loud at home will help a child to do this in his or her imagination at school.

Help your child practice throwing the mean things that other people are saying into a trash can. Have your child then say something positive out loud to himself or herself to take in. For example, if someone says, "I don't like you, " you can throw those words away and say, "I like myself." If someone says, "You are stupid" you can throw those words away and say, "I'm smart." If someone says, "I don't want to play with you" then you can throw those words away and say, "I will find another friend."

3. How to project an attitude of confidence.

People are more likely to be listened to and less likely to be picked on if they walk and sit with awareness, calm and confidence. Awareness, calm, and confidence means keeping one's head up, back straight, taking brisk regular steps, looking around, having a peaceful face and body, and moving away from people who might cause trouble.

It is very useful to practice with your child the difference between being passive, aggressive, and assertive in body language, tone of voice, and choice of words. Have your child walk across the floor, coaching her or him to be successful, by saying for example; "That's great!" "Now take bigger steps", "Look around you" "Straighten your back." etc.

KIDPOWER books:
"The KIDPOWER Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People" and the eBook "The KIDPOWER Guide for Parents and Teachers (which is an introductory version of The KIDPOWER Book) are available on online at www.kidpower.org/store. For more information, visit www.kidpower.org.

About KIDPOWER:
KIDPOWER International? is a charitable educational organization founded in California in 1989. KIDPOWER teaches people of different ages and abilities to be successful in learning and practicing personal safety, self-protection, confidence, and advocacy skills.

These "people safety" skills prepare individuals from all walks of life to prevent and stop most bullying, abuse, assault, and abduction and to advocate effectively for the well-being of themselves and others. KIDPOWER has brought training and education to over a million children, teenagers, and adults from many different cultures around the world.

Participants in workshops can learn to...

  • Be and act aware
  • Project an attitude of confidence
  • Recognize and take the power out of emotional triggers
  • Set appropriate boundaries with people they know
  • Stay out of reach of people who might cause problems for them.
  • Use their voice, stance, and body language to escape threatening situations
  • Protect themselves from name-calling and verbal attacks.
  • Use conflict resolution skills to de-escalate a confrontation
  • Deal effectively with bullying and harassment
  • Say "No" (effectively) to their friends and peers
  • Persist until you their help
  • Use physical resistance when all else fails by practicing simple, effective self defense skills
  • Defend against threats, emotional pressure, and bribes
  • Make safe choices
  • Act responsibly while respecting others

Upcoming workshops

Parent-Child Workshop for Children Ages 4 to 8
This entertaining two-hour program gives parents, or other adult guardians, the opportunity to learn Everyday Safety Skills along with their young children. The sooner we can teach our children basic self-protection skills, the safer they will be. Trained KIDPOWER instructors introduce the Everyday Skills of being and acting aware, taking charge, and getting help. Each step of the way, adults are coached in how to practice these skills with their children. The fee for this workshop is $60 per child, including all adults with that child. However, we will not turn anyone away for lack of funds.

Parent-Child Workshops at the following times:

Saturday, September 27th from 10am-12pm in Santa Cruz
Saturday, September 27th from 1-3pm in Santa Cruz
Saturday, October 25th from 2-4pm in Berkeley

Parent-Child Full Force Workshop for Children Ages 6 to 12
In this one-day workshop students learn all of the Everyday Safety Skills (awareness, calm and confidence, moving out of reach, checking first, using your voice to help you stay safe, getting help effectively, dealing with hurtful words, setting boundaries, dealing with bullying, etc) with their parents (like in a Parent Child Workshop). For the second half of the class, students learn physical self-defense skills to use as a last resort and the adults support them. Adults can learn some skills in the air, but the focus will be on the children learning physical skills. Adults will watch and support their children when they are practicing the skills on a padded instructor. The fee for the workshop is $115 per child, including all adults with that child. However, we will not turn away anyone for a lack of funds.

Parent-Child Full Force Level 1 Workshops at the following times:

Sunday, October 5th from 9am-1pm in Berkeley

TEENPOWER Introductory Full Force Workshop for Teens Ages 13 to 17
In this upbeat active one-day program, students learn and practice skills for dealing with verbal attack, peer pressure, and harassment as well as assaults from strangers and acquaintances. Because of their increasing independence, teenagers face an especially high risk of violence. In standing and ground scenarios, students practice full force self-defense techniques on a head-to-toe padded instructor. For teens under 18, parent permission is required. The fee for this workshop is $130 per student. However, we will not turn anyone away for lack of funds.

TEENPOWER Workshops at the following times:

Sunday, November 16th from 12:30-5:30pm in Palo Alto
Sunday, November 2nd from 12:30-5:30pm in Berkeley

FULLPOWER Introductory Full Force Workshop for Women and Men
This exciting program gives students the opportunity to practice taking powerful action in the face of trouble. In this upbeat, active, one-day program, students learn and practice skills for dealing with verbal attack, peer pressure, harassment as well as assaults from strangers and acquaintances, strategies for protecting their personal boundaries, de-escalating a threatening confrontation, and fighting off a potential attacker. In standing and ground scenarios, students practice full force self-defense techniques on a head-to-toe padded instructor. Students say that they find the opportunity to practice simple effective self-defense techniques against a head-to-toe padded instructor to be empowering. The fee for this workshop is $105 per student. However, we will not turn anyone away for lack of funds.

FULLPOWER Workshops at the following times:

Sunday, November 2nd from 6:30-10pm in Los Altos
Saturday, December 13th from 6:30-10pm in Berkeley

For a full list of workshops, click here.


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