Bullies target the unprepared, the weaker of the herd, the one that looks to be the easy target. But with some easy discussions and techniques, you can give your child the tools to know how to deal with bullying before it happens. How to avoid certain areas, staying safe, and how to stand up to bullies meaning that your child is less likely to become a target. Most people think self defence is about hitting back. But self defence is about so much more than hitting or striking another person. It involves listening to your gut, using confident voices, being aware of your surroundings, and being environmentally smart. So what are 9 simple strategies your child can adopt to help themselves against school bullies? Look confident, be confident Having a healthy self-esteem and walking with confidence is one way to prevent bullying. Walk tall, using good posture. Head up, shoulder back, positive steps. Make eye contact with those you see and project self-confidence. Bullies are looking for the weak and easy to target kid. Slouching and averting your eyes, looking at the ground all are signs that make you appear weak. Parents should work on these techniques with their kids. Remind them even if they are not feeling confident to walk like they are. Trust your instincts A primary lesson of all self defence is being aware of your surroundings. Put your cell phone away and have your head up and on a swivel. Teach your child to be aware of what is going on around them. Tell them to trust their instincts, usually, they are right. Is there a group of boys milling around the corner? Is there a strange car at the bus stop? Is there someone watching your every move? Does something make your stomach a bit nervous? By being aware of what is happening around them your child can actively avoid being bullied or attacked. Use your voice Your voice is one of the most powerful defensive tools you have. A powerful, confident, and assertive voice will often diffuse a lot of situations. Practice with your child talking in a strong assertive voice at home. When faced with a bully they can then easily adopt this voice to dissuade them. Noise is good Remember what we said about your voice, it is your best defence. Make sure your child knows it is ok to make noise. Especially when someone is threatening them or trying to hurt them. A strong voice that is being yelled will attract attention. This will in turn scare off a lot of bullies as the noise is more likely to attract an adult or teacher. Escape is best Make sure your child understands that walking away is ok and in most cases the best thing to do. Just turn around and walk away. Stress to your child that it takes more courage to walk away than stay and fight. As we always say in our classes and workshops. "Where is the best to be in a fight? " "Not there!!" Know your exits Sometimes your child will be unable to easily get away from a bully. They should know to look for exits. Look for a way out to escape and when the right option presents itself make a break for it. Stay with the herd Bullies like isolation. They look to isolate the weak from the pack so if your child stays with their friends and knows the best places to go in groups they lower the chances of being bullied. What if they don't have a group of friends to hang out with? Work with them to develop friendships. Even one friend can go a long way to preventing bullying. Learn some self defence in a class One of the best things you can do is enroll your child in a self-defence class or martial arts class. Not only will your child learn how to defend themselves but also confidence and self-control. Being able to respond to a bully calmly and confidently can often stop any escalation of a situation from verbal to physical. How to, what-ifs You certainly do not want to encourage your child to fight but they must know that they have the right to protect themselves if attacked. How could they block a punch, deal with someone grabbing them on the arm? What about a group attack? These are all strategies they can learn from self defence classes or courses. Be sure to stress that using their voice and walking away is always the preferred option. Be prepared as well that in most cases both the bully and the victim of the physical bullying will be suspended by a school. It helps your child to deal with and understand the potential outcomes of situations so they can make appropriate choices. Overall, having your child know some basic strategies of how to identify and deal with bullies is an important set of lessons you can pass on. Unfortunately in today's world, it is likely they will encounter bullying at some stage in childhood. It is not about being afraid but simply being prepared.