National Bullying Prevention Month is coming up next month in October and now that children and teens are back in the swing of things at school they are feeling the pressures of the heavy workloads and after-school activities. On top of all of this pressure, many suffer from confidence, making friends and bullies.
Going back to school should be an exciting time in every child’s or teen’s life. They get to see their friends after the summer break and make new ones. However, a lot of students are faced with severe anxiety and stress when a new school year comes around. Whether it’s facing the school bully, not having the confidence to raise their hand and participate in class or even just trying to make friends, a student’s body language can become a tool to turn the social and scholastic experience of school into a positive one. Body language and image expert,Yana German, shares tips for students on how to pass the school year with flying colors.
German’s personal story inspired her to help other children who are bullied. After relocating to the US during her teenage years due to anti- semitism in her native Belarus, German became an easy target for bullies at school. “ My parents couldn’t afford much, so most of my clothing came from refugee charities,” explains German. “Kids would make fun of me because I wasn’t dressed well and would throw food at me during lunch,” continues German. The bullying got to the point where German had to drop out of school for a year in order to get her confidence back and continue her education. Today, German is a mother to two daughters and shares her body language tips to ward off bullies.
One of the most important tips is to keep an open posture. “Parents should always encourage their kids to stand up straight with their head and chin up,” German says. Having great posture will instantly boost your confidence. Pulling your shoulders back and opening your chest is one quick fix that works wonders. Not only does it make you taller it boosts your inner confidence,” explains German.
When a student is talking to another child he/she should always look them in the eye. “Nothing gives away your fear more than not looking at the person you are speaking to.” says German. “Looking someone in the eye and maintaining that contact for as long as you can is a great non-verbal way of expressing your confidence,” adds German.
When someone is bullied it’s really hard, if not impossible to respond with empathy. “Shy and vulnerable kids are usually easy targets for bullies. That’s why it’s really important to smile,” suggests German. “Smiling serves as your barrier towards any negativity, and bullies rarely target children who seem to be happy, calm and radiate good energy,” adds German. When a student rarely smiles, it can be a warning sign of low self-esteem.
When we are feeling self-conscious, we naturally tend to become “smaller.” We want to shrink away into the room so that nobody notices us. This means we may hunch over, hide in a corner and cross our arms and legs until we almost disappear. German says the best way to gain confidence is to physically take up more space than usual. “If you are standing, take a wider stance than usual, put your arms on your hips. If you are sitting with a desk in front of you, use your arms on the desk to take up space.”German says. “This will make you feel more powerful and instantly give you more confidence.”
Relax your arms and open up your shoulders. “When a child or teen crosses his/her arms, it sends out a defensive signal that they want to be left alone,” explains German. “He can put his hands in his pockets if he feels awkward holding his arms by his side. What’s important is that he keeps his torso open. When the child’s arms at their side and they face the other child heart to heart it shows others he’d like to make new friends.”
Hope these tips help your child ward off bullying to the best of her or his ability this school year and in the future!