It’s easy to spot a bully.
Eager to dominate those weaker. The bully is always looking for his prey. People he can use to make himself feel superior. Someone more scared than he is.
So the bully and his victim are both afraid. Participants in a dance of torment, fueled by fear and insecurity. Bullies transfer their pain to the easiest mark. No bully wants a challenge. The victim either fights back, internalizes the pain or passes it on.
In over a decade working with kids, many have shared stories with me about being bullied at home or in school. Some of these kids were excellent martial artists who could physically defend themselves. A fragile self image led to them being attacked by the most unlikely of bullies. The strong victimized by the weak.
In the dojo, a bully calls out someone he perceives as weak. Someone they KNOW they can beat. Bullies don’t like challenges. No risk. No reward. No change.
Maintaining an illusion of superiority can feel essential to some people. Often because of negative circumstances at home or in school. For those that feel the most disenfranchised, finding someone they can claim dominance over becomes a way of justifying their own existence. They are worth something.
I’ve come to believe building a child’s self esteem and sense of empathy will help them diffuse a bully’s attacks. When kids are confident about who they are, and understands that bullying is a sign of serious issues in the tormenter, their perspective changes. Fear is out of the equation.
When a kid’s self image is cultivated through positive reinforcement for good choices, they will withstand a bully’s verbal assault. Bad decisions should be met with consequences for the lessons they teach, but it’s important not to label a child when they mess up. Adults must remember who they once were and the mistakes they made in the past. Relating to the child, and helping them understand the reasons they do something generally deemed as wrong goes much further than tough love.
Strong, confident children that are sensitive to the circumstances of those around them will not feel the same sting when a bully attacks. The way they hold there head up alone gives them extra protection. They become empowered. The are bullyproof.