A lot of parents are turning to self defence classes for their kids. Others think that these classes teach simply how to react physically so avoid them altogether. But both types of parents and caregivers have it a little wrong.
While teaching a child how to take a swing if swung at by a meanie seems like a good idea it is not perhaps the best approach. Self Defence is about taking a meaningful and practical approach to how you conduct yourself, view, and react to potential situations.
“Most fights can be resolved by verbal de-escalation or simply walking away.” says martial arts instructor Chris Cameron of Shield Martial Arts in Christchurch. “99 out of 100 fights are avoidable.”
Unfortunately, verbal de-escalation is an aspect of self defence that is skipped by most parents and anti-bullying groups. He says that there is a palpable avoidance of parents to teach their kids to talk tough and be verbally assertive fearing it’s viewed as impolite or rude.
A strong point of the bullying program that Cameron teaches is about being verbally assertive. Learn to make noise and use your voice. Not be quiet.
“Your ability to verbally assert yourself, without giving the bully the emotional reaction they want is a key skill. Kids have to learn this skill.”
Only after talking has failed should anything ever get physical explains Cameron. “You have the right to defend yourself when you are being physically harmed. No one has the right to hurt you physically.”
But, there is a but. This does not mean you swing at a bullies’ nose. When swinging it simply turns into a game of chance. This is important especially in schools that adopt a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to physical altercations. Who knows who started what when. So both culprits get suspended.
The best bet for teaching your child options for them and what to look for in a self defence class is the following:
Teach them to be verbally assertive and standing up for themselves maintaining a calm and confident manner
Use role-play to help kids stress test how to react to a bully
Don’t teach kids how to swing for the fences but teach them how to create distance or close distance to decrease physical options available
Enroll your child in a good bully-proof or martial arts school
With an investment of time and money, your child can learn how to submit people and deal with many scenarios But this takes training.
Cameron says that any parents who are unable or unwilling to put their child into a martial arts or bully-proof program should at least make sure they are role-playing bully scenarios at home so their children are prepared.
People do not react in a certain way unless they have had practice. Practice verbal de-escalation and ways to create or close the distance between a would-be attacker. Or better yet enroll your child in a bullyproof or martial arts program to learn all the skills they need as well as grow in confidence and self-esteem.
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