Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Self defense for little children

I just recently experienced something in my family that has me contemplating the whole "bully in the playground" experiences that children have had to survive for so long.

My young 10 year old daughter was walking home at lunchtime with her 9 year old sister, and 7 year old brother. Suddenly, one of the other students of the school runs up behind the three in a panic asking for help because she was being chased by a group of girls intent to "beat her up".

My 10 year old looked around and accessed the situation. She saw one girl chasing towards them, another girl waiting at the lights to ambush, and a group of three girls closing down on them on the other side of the street.

When these "bullies" saw that their victim had reached my children, they stopped their attack, and started walking away, but keeping an eye on the victim to see if my daughter was going to help or not.

My daughter took charge of the situation, and invited this girl to come to our house, and phone her parents. All the way home, she watched to see if the bullies were going to follow. However, the bullies had gone home.

The victim arrived safely to my home, and was able to phone her dad, and be picked up.

My daughter asked me "Mom? I know the lead bully's Mom.. She is a nice lady. Why is this girl acting like such an awful person? I just can't see how a nice Mom like that could teach her daughter to be such a bully."

As I tried to explain an answer to my daughter, I understood something about bullying from the depths of me. We all have the potential to be a "bully" to another person. Our society exists on "control and power", sometimes we are the follower, sometimes we are the leader. Many times, we see a potential chance to usurp control over others that really isn't ours to have. We may not always act out in a physical way. Sometimes our bullying is just the way that we speak, or act towards a person which makes them feel demeaned, and psychologically attacked. Physical damage ( like a bruise) will heal over time, but psychological damage could affect us far into the future. We may not even be aware of what we are doing. In fact, we might even have the best intentions as we bully others.

Take a Sensei who is instructing class. Let's say she notices that one student is having problems with their down block. The Sensei puts on a severe tone, calls out the student by name, and proceeds not only to correct that one default, but to list all of the various weaknesses that this student has in their technique ending with the words "What's wrong with you??? You call that karate? You might as well be ball room dancing!"

In my eyes, this scenario didn't help the student learn how to improve, or how to look for solutions. Instead, it focused on how the student is inadequate, and unteachable. It demeaned the student's efforts to learn, and offered no hope for success. It is a form of "bullying" a child into progress. In my experience, improvement does not happen from shame, hopelessness, and rebuke. A student needs to feel like there is a chance that they may be able to achieve this with continued effort.

How can we be aware that we are being bullies? Well.. I'd say that we'd have to look at our behaviour honestly and ask ourselves. Would I want to be treated this way? Would I want my children treated this way? Would I act like this if I was being videotaped? Suddenly, by putting on outside eyes, we realize the honesty of our words, and actions, and we can choose a different behaviour.


Safety Scott said...

Your daughter seems responsible, especially when it comes to self-defense.

I guess we all have the potential to bully, and there's a natural desire for power in us.

[Mat] said...

Here's my esoteric point of view.

There is a constant battle for each other's energy going on and we each have our way of getting other people's energy.

Ever wonder why sometimes, you feel empty after speaking with someone?

What is that bully reaching for with that constant bullying? Reaching for energy through domination.

But, that, again, is my esoteric point of view.

Following that point of view, the Sensei should be giving energy, not taking it.

Using that philosophy, I've had very surprising results. Especially at work.

Be well,

supergroup7 said...

Yes, Safety Scott.. my daughter has been internalizing the various teachings that she has received from karate class, from school, and from myself. I'm happy to see her being aware, and alert.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

supergroup7 said...

I've never thought of it as trying to get the other person's energy.. but I can see where that could make sense, Mat.

There have been many times when I feel "energy-less" after facing a confrontation with someone even though nothing physical happened... it's like a blanket had been put over me. Interesting thoughts.. thank you for sharing them.