Every day we read about a kid being bullied or suffering harassment of some kind. Then I met Bully Expert, Joshua Ryer. Joshua was offering these classes in a homeschool group for something called “Verbal Self Defense” at his martial arts school. The Bully Expert sounds like someone you would want to keep your kids away from, right? Yet Joshua Ryer told me that he teaches kids how to prevent bullying and the best way to respond if they are being bullied.
I contacted him privately to learn more. When I was a kid I was always the smallest. Every day of school was someone trying to intimidate or bully me. One time I was even thrown into a locker by a group of girls. Yet somehow I was never hit. I think that’s because I knew how to talk to bullies and get inside their head. I knew how to be empathetic and use my words. That’s what Verbal Martial Arts teaches!
Joshua also talked about what parents can do if their child is being bullied and how adults can minimize and stop the prevalence of bullying in their communities. What intrigued me even more was the idea that a school that teaches breaking planks of wood would also be teaching how to use your words to diffuse a situation.
Joshua explained to me that confrontations do not need, and should not result in, a physical confrontation. Originally, these techniques were designed for police officers. The founder, Dr. George Thompson was an English teacher and part-time police officer. He remembers watching police officers who had been on the force for more than 20 years diffuse serious situations with only their words. He became intrigued to see if this would work on people of all ages and in any situation.
Joshua was certified in Verbal Judo in 2012 and became their Pittsburgh Bully Expert and teaches at the Ryer Martial Arts Academy. The Counterpoint Tactical System was designed by Master Zach Whitson and at Ryer Academy the Verbal Judo has been embedded into their kids’ martial arts program.
“There are proven ways to de-escalate situations if you have the right tools. Verbal Self Defense provides those tools,” Joshua Ryer
How To Prevent Bullying
Joshua has seen kids become more empethethic, responsible, and confident after taking his classes. He says that’s the first key to warding off bullies! A bully picks out a child sees a victim as “less than” and not equal to the other kids. Joshua teaches parents how to make their kid “bully proof” in his class.
The key to the prevention of bullying is for parents to be approachable. Let your kids know that you will stop what you are doing when they ask for your attention. Teach your child empathy.
Listen with your whole brain. Look them in the eye while listening. See the situations they tell you about through their eyes. The last thing you should do at that moment is give advice or philosophy. Say things like, “I see! Ooh, that sounds really rough.” Be a sponge for their anxieties and let your child know you hear them.
This attitude that your child is important builds their self-esteem. Having self-esteem is based on knowing they are loved. That makes them bully resistant, too.
The Best Way To Respond To A Bully
The Bully Expert teaches what is called Verbal Defense Techniques. These are 7 things anyone can do to protect themselves from bullies. The more you practice these the better you get at doing them. Kids as young as 4 can be taught these actions. Role playing is a great way to do that. As you practice them with your child be aware of building up their confidence. It isn’t that you anticipate these things happening, you simply want them to know what to do if it should happen. Think of it like a fire or tornado drill.
The 7 Steps to Prevent Bullying
- Walk around with great posture: neck on top of spine, chest out, shoulders relaxed, and eyes looking forward.
- Remain alert. Who are the potential bullies, where are they at all times? You don’t want to get trapped in an area that you can’t easily get out of like a hallway or a corner.
- Shake hands assertively: maintain good posture, give a firm handshake, and maintain eye contact.
- Have a pre-planned response. Have at least two options for what will you do when, or if, the bully makes a move.
- Know when it is time to make a move and having the confidence to carry through with your next step.
- Just say STOP in a calm but determined manner.
- Give people a good option and a bad option.
How Parents Can Help Their Child Who Is Being Bullied
You can visit the Pittsburgh Bully Expert where you can sign-up for a free online 30 day anti-bullying boot camp. You can also access other resources from the Verbal Self Defense Team. If you are in Pittsburgh you can visit Ryer Academy or visit their website. The Ryer Academy has a YouTube channel where you can see Joshua in action.
You Can Stop Bullying In Your Community
The free Verbal Self Defense emails talks about how parents can stop bullying in their community. They call it the “I got your back pledge”. The pledge is that you will help a person defend themselves if they see someone being bullied. After learning about these Verbal Self Defense techniques I think that’s something I can do!
I believe that every child, and adult, needs to learn to stick up for themselves. Tell me what you think about this program on our Facebook page. We would love to see you there!