Should Children Learn Self Defense?
Karate. Taekwando. Krav Maga.
These are only a few self-defense systems taught to children all over the world. A lot of people believe that self-defense means going into Jackie Chan mode and fighting off bad guys with karate kicks to the groin and smashing heads together. That’s actually not true. While you’d learn some cool moves, self –defense is also about trusting your instincts, understanding your surroundings, and doing everything possible to avoid putting yourself into harm’s way. Self-defense is all about being smart.
It sounds like an art every child should master, doesn’t it? Some parents don’t think so. They’re afraid that martial arts will mess up their kids, especially at a young age. Parents everywhere have conjured up pros and cons of teaching children self-defense.
Pros of children learning self defense
A lot of pros are involved with teaching children self defense. Here are some of them:
It teaches children to avoid dangerous situations. Children taking self-defense classes don’t see the world with rose tinted glasses, and that is a good thing. Children need to be aware of the dangers lurking out there in the world, and they need to know what to do if approached by a stranger. Martial arts classes will teach them everything about that.
It provides good exercise. If your child was going to spend a few hours after school vegging out in front of the TV, why not use that time constructively? Enrolling him into a self-defense class will not only teach him invaluable life skills, but it will also give him all the exercise he or she needs.
It builds confidence. Martial arts gives children the skills they need to defend themselves. When armed with practical knowledge and self-defense skills, a child would feel more confident about standing up for herself.
It stays with children their whole lives. The earlier a child learns self-defense, the more likely it will turn into an instinct. Children are like sponges; they absorb massive amounts of information. Adults? Not so much. The older you get, the more practice you need and the more likely you’ll forget the self-defense techniques you’ve learned in class.
It teaches self-discipline. Martial arts classes are known for instilling self-discipline in children. They teach children to think before acting on an impulse, handle confrontation effectively, and make good choices in general.
Cons of children learning self defense
Self defense could bring some grave consequences if not taught correctly. Here are some scenarios that could go wrong:
It could lull children into a false sense of security. While self-defense does teach children how to defend themselves, some children might overestimate their own strength and get themselves into dangerous situations. For example, a child could think nothing of walking through a seedy neighborhood just because he knows a bit of karate. A child could become friends with a manipulative stranger just because the stranger doesn’t exhibit any of the characteristics the child was taught to beware of. It could be dangerous to let children believe that they’re untouchable just because they know a few self-defense moves and techniques.
It could teach children to be violent with other children. The defensive moves a child learns in her martial arts class could easily turn into offensive moves. Some kids may take advantage of what they just learned to hit other kids just for fun. Be careful who teaches your child learns self defense and how.
It could teach children to be afraid of everything. You know the saying: ignorance is bliss. While it’s great for children to be realistic about the dangers out there, we don’t want to drill “stranger danger” so far into kids that they’re terrified to talk to anyone or even go out in public. Again, the quality of instruction is paramount here and should instill confidence in your kid, not fear.
However, teaching self defense properly could steer children away from the above problems.
What do you think?
Should children master self-defense skills, or should such a gift be left to adults only? Please let us know what you think in the comments below!