How to Stop Bullying: When My Child’s Friend is Getting Bullied

3 girls bullying long hat boy

As your children progress through school, they are going to be observing and processing a lot of information both inside and outside of the classroom. If your child is lucky enough not to be a victim of a bully, then that is a win for them. However, just like in adulthood, bullies and victims do exist and the bystander can be the one that helps eliminate bullying.

A bystander is a person (or persons) who is present at an event without participating in it. They are the most ignored and underused resource in our schools. Bystanders are typically about 85% of a schools’ population, at any given time, but they can become desensitized over time to what is happening right in front of them.

We would like to think that our children are strong and stand up for their friends or even strangers because those are traits that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Children who are bystanders often do not get involved because of three things:

  1. Fear of becoming a new victim for the bully
  2. Being outted by other peers as a tattletale
  3. Getting in trouble themselves

I will address each of these situations, with an effective solution, in separate articles.  Let’s start with the fear factor.

Fear of becoming a new victim for the bully

This fear is easily understandable and 100% a legitimate concern if a child is discovered by a bully to be the one that had them get in trouble. If you saw a bank being robbed and you had your cell phone on you, would you call the police in front of the bank robbers so that they could identify you or would you call the police somewhere where the bank robbers couldn’t see you? I assume you would make the phone call from a hidden and secure location to protect yourself, first and foremost. That would also be the ideal situation if a child sees another child getting bullied and reports it to a teacher. Unfortunately, not every single teacher is trained in specific bullying prevention techniques and might say to the child that they would like them to show them where the bullying is happening. If the child walks the teacher to the bully, all that will happen is the bully will lie, the current victim will be too afraid to admit they are getting bullied, and the child that was brave enough to stand up for the victim will now become the bully’s next victim; and will never stand up for another friend again. When I do my school assemblies, I instruct children to say to that teacher, “No. I do not want to be the bully’s next victim.” And then go find another adult to tell them where the bullying is happening. This may not be a popular choice with the teacher, but it is the best choice to keep a powerful and empathetic child safe so they may help others again. You may want to share this with your child or forward this to another caring parent.

Until next week…

Photo by Twentyfour Students




Behavior Management Strategies: When My Child’s Behavior Keeps Getting Worse!

parent child yelling

A young child throws a toy aimed at another child. His teacher, of course, reacts either by raising her voice or giving a stern look. The child stops the behavior instantly. However, as soon as the teacher calms down, the child throws the toy again.

In my twenty years as an educator and martial arts instructor, I’ve witnessed the same scenario time and time again. What is it that makes the child want to repeat a negative behavior for a second, third, or forth time? The answer is simple – attention.

I was recently invited to speak on this topic at the New Jersey Education Association’s yearly convention held in Atlantic City for continuing professional development. My seminar entitled, “Take Your Classroom Back,” gives teachers insight into the actions of young children and the reactions they are trying to elicit from adults when they misbehave. Time and time again, the bottom line will be that the child is looking for attention.

For behavior management strategies to work effectively, one of the key components to my workshop is for a parent and teacher to learn empathy. Put yourself in the child’s place. Think of a preschooler who might be distracted and just plain bored in school. They play, they eat, drink, and for a little excitement they learn to push the adult’s buttons. Ultimately the child looks for a reaction. Even if the reaction is negative, that does not matter to the child, if the reaction leads to attention. If they do get attention in whatever form, they remember the action, store it in their mind and focus on this way of behavior in the future. If repeating the same behavior and getting the same result is working for the child, you can expect the child to try his best to get the same reaction over and over and over again.

Usually, the more aggressive the behavior the greater the adult reaction. Therefore it is not uncommon for a child to continue to be more disruptive as a way of getting a bigger reaction, hence, greater attention. As children grow and socialize in schools, they pick up behaviors from others that they would not normally learn on their own.   When I see a four year old teaching a three year old how to stomp his hands and feet harder and scream louder, I have to laugh. I find myself always in awe of their extreme intelligence and their adaptability.   It’s incredible how a negative behavior is learned and mastered.

A director of a preschool asked me to speak to a mother who was perplexed by her child’s behavior. The mother asked what I would recommend for her one year old daughter who continually slapped her across the face. First, I needed to know where the behavior was learned. The mother confided that her three year old daughter was in the habit of practicing the same behavior. Second, I asked the mother what her reaction was when her child hit her. She replied that she would get mad and angry and carry on. Third, I asked, “When you get angry and upset about what your child is doing, I would be curious to know what his reaction is”? The answer of course was not surprising. The mother said, “Well, he laughs, he loves it.” I hope that you are starting to get the picture. In a child’s mind, defiant behavior is all about getting a reaction from an adult, a reaction that leads to attention.

So what is the solution? I informed the frustrated mom to simply stop reacting. I explained to her a technique which has been quite successful in my life skills workshops. There is an acceptable action I call a power look. To do this yourself, when addressing your child, look above the child’s forehead instead of into their eyes. This removes all emotion and micro expressions from your face, thus stopping the continuous reinforcement of the negative behavior. Practice this look in the mirror and master it. I also sing a song in my mind so that no self-talk sabotages the power look.  The more you practice, the better you will be at showing no emotion when a child decides to test you, and believe me, you will be tested. Repeat this power look over and over if the aggressive behavior continues. In conjunction with the look make sure that the child is verbally told, in a calm manner of course, that the behavior is not allowed. It may take a little while, but eventually, when there is no reaction from the adult and ultimately no attention given for a defiant act, the intelligent child will realize that his approach is just not giving him the desired effect. It is not worth the effort and soon the behavior will stop. Remember that you should expect to get tested, but don’t give in.

Stranger Danger for Kids

Children creating a human chain to stop their friend from being taken!


Greetings! This week’s post is about a topic that we don’t like to discuss and is extremely necessary. As a martial artist and an educator, I believe that having essential life skills like knowing what to do if a stranger approached us in needed. Not only for your children, but also as an adult.

The reality of life is that there are child predators out in the world and it is important that your children know how to protect themselves from strangers. As you send your child to school it is always a good idea to have information that will ensure they have a wonderful school day. To assist with this, we have the following tips for you and your children. Please take time out of your day to review these tips with your family.

The following are  tips on stranger danger for kids to discuss with your child when they are outside the house.

  • I will always tell my parents where I am going and when I’ll be home and return home before dark.
  • I will always play or go places with at least one other person- NOT alone.
  • I know my body belongs to me. I will trust my feelings. I will say NO and run away from a situation that doesn’t feel right.
  • There are certain kinds of strangers that can assist me when I need help. For instance: mothers with children, other children, police in uniform or store clerks in the mall.
  • If you think someone is following you, cross the street and go into a store. Tell a police officer or a mother with a child. Don’t try to hide — go to where you know you can find other people.
  • If someone tries to grab you, kick, punch and yell: “NO! I don’t know you! You aren’t my Mom (or Dad)! Or Stranger, Help!”
  • I will walk and play at places my parents said were OK. I will avoid shortcuts or alleys.
  • I will not allow adults to trick or force me into going places or doing things like; help find pets, carry packages, take pictures, play games, or take drugs with them. I will always check with my parents first.
  • I will not accept candy, money, gifts or rides from any adult without my parent’s permission.
  • I will always lock my home and car doors. I will not tell anyone that I am home alone.
  • I will learn to dial 911. I will learn to use the pay phone without money.
  • I will learn my address and phone number.
  • I will always walk against traffic on the sidewalk.  

The following are stranger danger for kids tips to discuss with your child when they are inside the house.

  • Many kids get home before their parents. If you come home before your mom or dad, make sure the first thing you do is call and let your mom or dad know you got home okay.
  • If you come home and a window in your house is broken or a door is open that shouldn’t be, don’t go in. Go to a trusted neighbor, or find a phone and call 911.
  • If you have to stay after school or want to play or study with a friend, tell your mom or dad.
  • Don’t leave your home without asking your mom or dad first. Make sure a parent knows where you are going and for how long. Always tell your mom or dad where you will be and when you will be home.
  • When your family is home and the doorbell rings, always find out who it is and ask your mom or dad before you open the door.
  • If you are home alone, never open the door — unless you can see that it is a relative or a specific person who your mom or dad said would come over to stay with you.
  • NEVER tell someone you are home alone, whether they call on the phone or come by your house. Ask your mom or dad what they would like you to say, like: “My Dad’s in the shower, can he call you when he gets out?”
  • NEVER give information to anyone over the phone about yourself, your family or where you live. Hang up on anyone who calls to bother you or who says bad things on the phone.
  • Ask your mom or dad for permission to go outside of your play area or yard or to go into someone’s home.
  • If you have a babysitter that hits you, touches you or makes you play games that embarrass you, tell a trusted adult, even if the babysitter told you not to.
  • Keep all the windows and doors in your home locked.
  • If someone tries to break into your home, call 911 immediately and give them your full address, including your apartment number if you have one. Tell them that you are at home and someone is trying to break in. Then, try calling a neighbor you know is usually home. If you can get out of the house, get out. If you can hide, hide.

The following are tips for parents to discuss and think about

  • Maintain current ID, including photograph, video and fingerprints.
  • Maintain current addresses and phone numbers of your children’s friends.
  • It is important to keep all doors and windows locked.
  • Do not advertise your child’s name on clothing, school supplies or backpacks.

Knowledge is power and knowing what to do in a situation involving a possible child abduction is extremely important in this day and age. If you are ever looking for school assembly ideas to assist you in teaching your child what to do in a stranger situation we offer a powerful “Outsmart the Stranger” assembly program that can be brought into your school or camp. Visit our website to learn more about the program. Recommending this program to your school and camp can help save a child’s life. We hope you have a wonderful rest of the school year. Stay safe and take care from Shua Life Skills.

Behavior Management Strategies when my child has too much energy.

girl yelling.jpg

Question: My child has high energy and never seems to calm down. What can I do?

Answer: First a few questions…

  1. How much physical exercise does your child get?
  2. How much mental stimulation does your child get?
  3. How often did you physically do something with your child?

Every child is different. Some children need extra energy outlets and some children don’t. My suggestion is to get your child involved in a martial arts school or some sort of sports program involving running. If that doesn’t work, have them watch Kung Fu Panda, then talk to them about getting stronger and faster like the animals. Have them do basic animal exercises for example: having them walk like a bear, jump like a monkey, leap like a frog, walk on their hands and feet upside down like a crab, squat walk like a duck, and so on. Body weight exercises using the entire body including the muscular, respiratory and circulatory system typically tend to tire out a child more. Sometimes just giving the children books to read would stimulate the child’s brain, but many times it’s using the body and mind together that finally get these children focused. Have them read while duck walking. Try doing math while bear walking. Have your child use their bodies the way they were designed.

Setting up their play environments can also keep a child occupied in a positive manner. If your child has only one outlet for energy in their room, then that limits them. Give your child three of four different things that they may do at any given time. Maybe create different sections or corners in their room. The first should be a physical section. Put a tall mirror and a soft exercise mat there. They can practice body movement and exercising there. For older kids, maybe set up a Wii Fit or yoga DVDs. The second area should stimulate the brain. Have a comfortable chair or beanbag that they can sit and read in quietly or work on puzzles and games. The third section should be the computer or music section. Every child needs to learn how to use a computer with a mouse. You can get games ranging from educational, creative, strategic, artistic or just plain fun. Or just to listen to music. The fourth section should be their bed where they can just lay down and rest or meditate. Have chairs available for them to invite their friends to join them to improve social skills. Allow the child to be able to go from one section to the other freely. Letting your child add to the creativity process is a great way to let excess energy out so that other behavior management strategies are not necessary. Good luck!