Self-Defence Techniques For Kids
Do you think your child must learn self-defence? What can you do to help? We answer all your questions in this article! Also, don't miss our quick chat with experts in the field.
By Kerina De Floras • 12 min read
“Life will knock us down, but we can choose whether or not to get back up”
- Jackie Chan, The Karate Kid
Kaitlyn was walking home from school when she felt like being followed. Her friend who usually accompanied her wasn’t there today and she panicked slightly. She was now dreading the deserted street she had to cross to reach home. Just as she was thinking of turning around to see who it was, she heard the footsteps gain speed. She turned around, fists clenched and a determined look on her face. She was surprised to see her elder brother looking at her in surprise.
“Luke! Were you following me?” she asked, sighing with relief.
“I was just trying to catch up with you. What’s wrong?” he asked, appalled at her expression.
“I thought someone was following me. Dad taught me to tackle anyone who tried to hurt me.”
Kaitlyn’s dad is one of the few parents who help their kids defend themselves when in need. Bullying and teasing are common problems for children and teenagers today, but some parents do not realise the need to address these issues. Self defence for children is definitely the need of the hour, with rising number of cases of child abduction, rape and abuse being reported every day. Parents can help their kids stay safe and confident by teaching them simple self-defence techniques.
ParentCircle is here to help you with just that! Read on to know when your child will need to use self-defence, how you can teach them, how self-defence helps her and an interesting talk with a martial arts teacher.
Why your child must learn self defence
Learning self-defence can help a child be confident while being more aware of his or her surroundings. It also imbibes valuable life lessons like respecting others’ space and privacy. Children who are not aware of their environment or who are emotionally vulnerable become easy targets for abductors. They need to be able to handle bullies, stalkers or abductors in any situation or place.
Self-defence for kids can mean either running away, getting help or launching an attack, depending on the situation. You can start talking to your kids about these as early as possible, beginning with warning against strangers. While a few self-defence instructors think children can start learning techniques from age 3, some classes have a minimum age restriction of 10 years. Learning self-defence also improves concentration and self-discipline at a young age.
A popular misconception in society is that girls need self-defence, but boys do not. Both girls and boys are vulnerable to abuse, physical or sexual assault and bullying. Hence it is important that they are both equipped with simple techniques to defend themselves.
What can you do to help?
You can start by knowing your kids’ daily routine and talking to them about their day at school or about their friends. Help them understand that you will support them without judging or blaming them. This way they will open up to you when they need help.
Here are some things your child must know about self-defence, and how you can teach them.
1. Be aware of your surroundings
Start by urging your kids to always be aware of their surroundings - be it on public transport, while walking home from school or when going out with friends. This is the first step to staying safe from potential threat.
2. Walk away from the fight if you can
We all know that taking a swing at people who make us uncomfortable is not the right way to solve a problem. Help your child set a buffer before he decides to use force. Most potential threats look for a weakness, so ask your child to stay calm and walk away. While this may work for verbal abuse, let your kids know that they have the right to defend themselves when being physically harmed.
3. Fight or flight
Prepare your children to handle emergency situations - they need to know how to avoid being seized, how to resist a potential captor and how to escape. Always urge them to stay close to you. Ask them to yell loudly when they sense danger and explain that this will attract attention and bring help. When nobody is around, urge them to bite the abductor and flee, or grab onto a tree or pole and not let go, while keeping an eye for an escape route.
4. Act it out
Role play helps you understand how your kid would react to situations. Play the part of a stranger and enact scenes like asking for an address, staring at them or following them on the street. Watch how your child reacts and teach them what to do if someone makes them uncomfortable.
5. Keep a cool head
When you talk to kids about stressful situations where they might need to defend themselves, be gentle and not intimidating. Creating panic in your kid’s mind is the last thing you want to do. Convey the message clearly and make sure they are still confident about being sociable.
6. Do not leave home without these
Make sure your kid always carries a torch and a whistle. A key chain alarm is also a great device which can create attention by making loud noises when pressed. Older students can carry a stun gun, taser or pepper spray if the school allows them.
7. Enrol them in classes
If you need an expert for this, just enrol the kids in martial arts or self-defence classes in your city. Karate, Jiu jitsu, Taekwondo, Krav Maga, Kalaripayattu and others are popular martial arts programmes for children.
Hearing from an Expert
To know better about self-defence for kids, we got in touch with Krav Maga master Sreeram.
Krav Maga is a combat system devised originally for the military. In Hebrew Krav Maga means ‘Contact Combat’. It equips people to handle crisis in a close range. People of all ages have been taking classes with Mr. Sreeram at his Krav Maga Tamil Nadu centre. He also trains the Tamil Nadu Police Commando force, prison wardens and the Chennai City Police in unarmed combat. He conducts training sessions on anger management, handling stress and being aware in a crisis.
“Self-defence is for people who are not trained in combat – for people like you and me”, says Mr. Sreeram and we couldn’t agree more. He tells us that things can quickly escalate when kids are targeted while travelling alone by public transport or walking home from school. He emphasises that enrolling kids in a martial arts class is just one part of the process. The other important part is what parents teach them.
When asked about when children can start learning self-defence, he tells us that kids can start learning from 10 years old. Children start observing and understanding things around them at this age. Till then he advises parents to keep an eye on their children.
“Girls in their adolescence can be emotionally vulnerable and mostly do not realise that they are being manipulated by someone. They are mostly glued to their phones so are not aware of the people around them.” he says. He advises parents to help their teens use social media responsibly and monitor the information they share online.
He swears by two rules for kids – anticipate and avoid ugly situations, and escape from the situation. Strangers and potential abductors tend to approach kids in deserted places like empty streets or elevators. Sreeram asks parents to teach kids that external appearances do not matter and that everyone is a possible threat in your radar. He also urges teenagers to use mobile safety applications, like Kaavalan. “In case your child is trapped and senses danger, ask them to look out for heavy, sharp, shielding or blinding objects around them. This can be used in dire situations to help them run away from the scene.” He stresses that common sense is the best weapon in any situation.
He has a few important pointers for parents as well. Teaching kids to defend themselves is as important as giving them a good education is what he believes. Urging parents to curb bullying when they hear about it, he says leaving such issues unattended can put your child in depression. He also agrees that boys are equally vulnerable, as they are more easily accessible. On keeping a check on children he says, “If your child shows sudden signs of withdrawal, avoids her usual routine, seems slightly mature, loses interest in academics or has an unexplained fear of a place or person, it’s a warning that they have undergone a disturbing incident.” He urges parents to keep children in a comfort zone and teach them that there must not be any secrets between them. This way, children will immediately let their parents know if a stranger asks them to keep an incident a secret.
Watch this exclusive video where close combat expert Gaurav Jain shows us some moves for kids to tackle an attacker or potential threat.
Another self-defense expert, Prem Shanker, shows how to defend yourself when grabbed from behind and other techniques in this exclusive video.
If you have either enrolled your kids in a martial arts class or wishing to, always remember that every lesson starts with you. With so many disturbing incidents we hear about in the news, we encourage parents to start teaching your kids today! Help your child stay safe and enjoy childhood like they are meant to!
About the author:
Written by Kerina De Floras on 10 May 2020.
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