My great grandfather used to tell us that sticks and stone may hurt our bones, but words will never do unless we allow them to. There is some sense to it, although I do not believe I ever managed to master this level of self control. The bully hurts you physically. But the strength of the bully relies more on the hurt he causes mentally. I have known kids who seem fearless, who fight their bullies everyday without ever winning. They remain unshaken. Yet I have seen other children, who have not endured any physical harm in weeks and they are psychologically devastated because of the bullying. This effect is so obvious to the eye that many readers will probably feel this blog is an utter waste of time and that it teaches nothing.


Yet, many do not know that I teach martial arts. It is not rare at all for me to meet parents who ask me to teach their children (sometimes as young as 3 years) to learn ways to hurt other children. Usually their request stems from a genuine wish to protect their child. However, the strategy should not be physical. The difference between the child who is unshaken by the bullying and the one who is, lies not in the ability to fight, but in the sense of confidence within. Bullied children have that part of themselves attacked. So, if we want to help our kids, we must invest more in empowering our children and helping them to see the value they hold within. As parents and carers, we can adopt methods that help them find solutions for their own problems (as opposed to hijacking their problems and solving them for them) as this is a sure way to help a child realise that he can solve issues. This is the bedrock for the so-famous CAN-DO attitude. It is the hallmark of a confident personality. So if you want to help your child against bullying, try helping in the formation of confidence. Physical protection is important, but ultimately not exhaustive.


Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness. He offers parent coaching and social work sessions. He can be contacted on

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