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Can BJJ Bullyproof Your Kid?
Now that school is back in session for the masses, it is the perfect time to assess and discuss bullying with your kids. Not everyone deals with the issue personally, but everyone needs to understand the severity and importance of first not targeting someone else and second learning to defend against someone that targets them. Whether you are dealing with specific incidents or generalized adolescence, the impact of bullying has amplified exponentially over the last few years with the introduction and explosion of social media.
Bullying doesn’t have to be the extreme version that is often seen on the news or movies, it can be as simple as an older sibling picking on their younger brother or sister. Sure, some of this behavior is expected and “normal”, but it is our job to differentiate what is acceptable and what is not so kids can grasp societal norms.
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Many times bullying stems from lack of ability to deal with emotions or social problems in some form or another. Giving children an outlet that allows them to grow as a person in multiple different facets can drastically improve their self confidence, social interaction and emotional stability. What is one particular activity that provides all of these benefits (and more!)? You guessed it- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!
Children that take part in Jiu Jitsu are exposed from a young age to problem solving, given a physical energy outlet as well as taught how to respect not only adults but their peers as well. As adults we are aware of the huge mental aspect of Jiu Jitsu and the amount of energy it takes to tackle the seemingly never ending varieties of techniques at our fingertips. The grappling game is like one big human puzzle, and letting kids work their way through all of the pieces on their own is a huge parallel to life outside the gym. The more they apply themselves, the better they will become at the sport and the better they will feel about themselves. Not only will they see their hard work pay off with promotions and praise from teachers, they might even notice that they feel less stressed or more comfortable in their own skin than they ever have before. In addition to mental stimulation and growth, they also learn emotional control. A lot of sports have adopted a strategy of constant rewards and praise no matter what input is given from the child.
While it is great to be encouraging, it is also incredibly beneficial for kids to learn that they won’t always win and that’s okay. Sometimes you will get the submission and sometimes you will be the one submitted; that does not directly reflect how good you are at the sport or mean that the other person is automatically “better”. Learning to control, and more importantly understand, the emotions that are related to competition can help people of every age deal with daily life struggles, whether in school, at home, or at work.
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Teamwork is another beneficial lesson that Jiu Jitsu teaches anyone that participates. Although it is often thought of as an individual sport, there is a lot of camaraderie on the mats and it is our job to take care of our partners when rolling. In bullying terms this is a great asset to have. Being a part of a group in any aspect will help children feel included and have a safe space to be themselves if they feel ostracized at school.
Not only will Jiu Jitsu provide a feeling of acceptance, but it will also give them the sense that they are not alone in a lot of personality traits since they will quickly become familiar with peers that have similar interests. Along the same lines as being a team player, kids will be exposed to proper respect of others. Listening to their instructors during class, and also listening to their classmates will help build an innate respect for everyone around them. Through Jiu Jitsu they will become aware that everyone deserves proper treatment and to be heard, especially as their social circle grows in the gym and new faces are added.
As kids grow, they will be exposed to healthy competition and witness appropriate ways to deal with it. Competition can be stressful, but learning how to successfully enter a competition and deal with that stress is highly beneficial. This skill can be translated into test taking, trying new things at school such as clubs or extracurricular activities, and even applied as they reach adulthood to multiple different scenarios. The outcome is always variable and very susceptible to circumstance, which is a hard pill to swallow. Being able to prepare as best they can for a competition and accepting defeat, or even understanding that if they win it was due to hard work, will go a long way.
Lastly, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a great way to simply let kids have fun! They are exposed to so much in their daily life that providing a sport that is so multi faceted gives them so much in return. We enjoy it as adults, so why not let kids reap the same benefits?!
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