When you are helping your children choose their extracurricular activities, chances are you want to help them pick a pastime that will benefit them in the long run. Team sports, social clubs, and activities involving the arts can all have a lasting effect on the well-being of children who participate. But which of these activities will give your children the skills they need to deal with the frustrations they may encounter day to day?

An Activity for the Whole Child

Many parents are aware of the wide array of skills that kids can learn through participation in an extracurricular activity, but practicing the martial arts brings together the best of all possible worlds. Practicing karate, taekwondo, or another martial art combines the elements of physical activity, mental focus, and moral discipline. All of these areas are crucial points to strengthen in your child in order to help them better deal with insecurities and frustrations, including bullying.

The Bully Problem

Your child’s school days may be more frustrating than fun at times if he or she is being bullied. The more stories you hear about children targeting other children in school, the more anxious you may be about your own child becoming a victim. It’s a sad reality, but it is almost impossible to spend childhood in school and never encounter a bully.

Confidence: a Solution

Many parents are asking how they can prevent their children from being bullied, and author Sifu Romain gives his advice that it all rests on children’s self-confidence. Whether children are bullied or they are bullies themselves, the problem hinges on some children’s inability to cope with their own insecurities in a healthy way.

Though they are unfortunately so common, situations involving bullies can be avoided simply by changing the mindset in which you approach a situation like this. So why not use karate, taekwondo, or another martial art to minimize your child’s insecurities through confidence?

Confidence through Respect

Quite a few of the skills learned through activities like this are designed to help students develop this confidence in themselves. But the confidence taught in self-defense classes is by no means a false confidence that can go too far and turn your child into a self-centered person and a bully.

This is because the self-confidence taught in these classes is paired with respect. Your child will be taught how to respect authority, facilities, and other children. The traditional bowing that takes place in these training sessions is more than just a tradition, it is also a symbol of mutual respect. Most training areas teach students to bow to each other and the teacher, instilling humility along with respect so that all people are treated with dignity.

Confidence through Calm

Children who practice self-defense skills learn to exude confidence and self-assuredness in all situations, even if they are still scared of what might happen. Many exercises in karate, taekwondo and the like focus on calming breathing techniques and mastering yourself in order to be more self-confident.

If your child has confidence in himself before he ever encounters a bully, he’ll be better able to deflect any potential hurtful comments or actions. However, the ideal is to avoid escalation entirely. Even if your child is a bully’s target and feels frightened of the potential for hostility, carrying himself with confidence will most likely cause any bully to lose interest in escalating the situation.

Confidence through Discipline

Not only does a disciplined attitude and self-control help prevent bullying, but it also helps prevent bullies. In the martial arts, the focus is placed on preventing a violent situation rather than creating one. Training in a martial art will help your children identify the rare situations in which they may need to practice physical self-defense techniques. And once they know when and how to practice these skills, it will lessen the probability that they will injure themselves and others. Since situations requiring physical self-defense will be rare, your child will mainly use the skills of confidence and discipline to weigh situations and discern ways to promote peace.

Confidence through Practice

Having a regular time set aside for practice helps your child become more comfortable with defusing threatening situations. Each time your children practice their moves on the mat, they are using both their mind and muscle memory to learn how to respond in potentially hostile scenarios. With this practice to look back on, when your child does encounter a bully, she won’t have the added stress of not knowing how to react.

The skills that your child learns in self-defense classes will continue to benefit them throughout their lives. Even if your child does not have trouble with bullying at the moment, consider enrolling them in martial arts classes at least once during their school years. You will no doubt appreciate the respect and confidence that your children will develop, and who knows–you might even want to take some classes yourself!