As a parent, worrying about your children is practically an occupation. You worry about how well they’re doing in school, who their friends are, and whether they’ll be safe bicycling without your constant supervision. While we don’t like to bring it up, there’s also the constant undercurrent of worry that your kids might be in dangers and abuses that can only come from hostile adults or even just bullies at school.
While you want your children to be safe, you also don’t want them to live in fear of boogie men under the bed and strangers around every corner. So what is the balance between keeping your children safe and making sure they have a happy, carefree childhood? The answer is preparation. By teaching your children to be prepared for *anything*, you can subtly teach them to be prepared for the chance of a home intruder or too-friendly stranger as well as how to survive in the wilderness or find a police officer when in doubt. Every parent has their own style, but we have a few helpful suggestions to guide your child toward a happy and confident ability to defend and protect themselves.
Pick a Self-Defense Martial Art
Millions of children every year have a great time learning how to break holds, deliver stunning blows, and escape from danger, but not all arts and dojos teach real self-defense lessons. Some focus more on the ‘cool’ skills like punches and kicks while others weave the principles of self-defense and violence only when necessary into every lesson. Look for an art and dojo that is right for your child and focuses specifically on the needs of modern self-defense. Our top three picks are Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do, and Aikido as these focus on self-defense and inner peace instead of dishing out damage.
Wing Chun was developed by women for women with a romantic legend about a young woman who was nearly forced to marry a bandit lord. It makes use of the natural flowing motion of the feminine hip structure and tendency toward greater lower body strength.
Jeet Kune Do
Jeet Kune Do was developed by the world famous Wing Chun master Bruce Lee who developed it for today’s urban self-defense needs and means “The Way of the Intercepting Fist”. Ethics are a big part of every lesson and this art also played a role in the civil rights movement.
Aikido is the least violent martial art in the world and focuses on only using the attacker’s force against them. It focuses primarily on dodging and throws that redirect an attacker’s force and encourages escape. Aikido actually favors smaller combatants and makes use of their short limbs as powerful fulcrums against larger attackers.
It takes a village to raise a child, but today defining your ‘village’ can be challenging. There are categories of adults your children can and should go to in times of worry or confusion and those they should know how to avoid. Focus on the positive and warning signs instead of telling scary stories about the dangers to children that strange adults may pose.
Make a list of approved adults and teach your children how to seek out the right people and who they can trust with their needs, along with a much shorter list of people whose cars it is safe to get into to take them home. Teachers, for instance, can be trusted at school and on field trips, police officers are their safest ride home option, and you may have some specific neighbors who your children can run to in case something goes wrong at home like fire, intruder, or if you are sick and need help.
Make Safety Drills a Game
Finally, you may want your children to know when to hide, when to run, and how to put obstacles between them and a potential attacker or kidnapper. But this doesn’t have to involve making them afraid. Watch the movie Home Alone together and start making home and outing safety drills a game. This can take the form of hide-and-go-seek or you can challenge each other to think of home defense ideas whenever you need to pass the time.
Make a game-word that means ‘go hide’, ‘escape the house without being seen’, ‘meet me at the car’, or even coordinate with friendly neighbors who also have kids and wouldn’t mind being part of your preparation games.
When your children know martial arts, who to trust, and have a plan of action in case of emergency, they are far more likely to be calm and capable of taking care of themselves if something bad does happen. Fear will make your children vulnerable, but preparation can cause them to respond to emergencies and threats with speed, capability, and pride at having been ready just like you trained them to be.