Should my Child Take Self Defense Classes?

wiseGEEK Writer

Most parents are deeply concerned about their children's safety, which is why many now consider enrolling children in self defense classes. Some parents feel that these classes may create unforeseen problems for their children, however. Children who take classes might worry more than is necessary or feel unsafe or distrustful of others. The key is to find classes that create a healthy balance between teaching a child how to be safe without scaring him or her. When a child should take one varies with the individual child.

Young and older children may benefit greatly from self defense classes.
Young and older children may benefit greatly from self defense classes.

Some parents find that they prefer to teach preliminary self defense to their children themselves. This should include teaching a child what to do if separated from a parent in public, and teaching him or her not to approach people in cars and not to talk to unknown adults, among many other subjects. Unless a parent is a martial arts instructor with a very calm personality, teaching a child how to fight off an attacker is not going to be simple.

Taking a wrestling class may assist an individual during self-defense situations.
Taking a wrestling class may assist an individual during self-defense situations.

Many child safety experts recommend that children somewhere between the age of 6 and 12 take classes. Older children, over 12, should also take one again for a refresher and for more practice. Realistically, a theory-based class can only take a child so far. Practicing moves to fight off an attacker increases the chances that he or she will remember what to do if attacked.

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To increase parents’ comfort in the material presented, instructors are usually able to give parents time in advance to review the material. Some classes are even offered for entire families, which can be a great way for a family to be more aware of risky behaviors and child safety in general.

Be wary of self defense classes in which the material is not easily available or when an instructor won’t answer questions regarding the course. Anyone with some knowledge about protecting children knows that you shouldn't allow an unknown person to instruct your children, and teachers should be particularly aware of this. Parents also might want to get recommendations from schools, from local police stations, or from other parents. This can help them wade through the many options available to children in order to pick the best ones.

If your child is enrolled in a self defense class for kids only, consider taking a refresher course yourself. A single course is not a shield from attacks or a guarantee a child won’t be approached by a harmful person. Learning and practicing in front of your children can be an excellent model for your kids. Further, discussions about safety issues should be ongoing, instead of a one-time event.

There are many ways to teach a child basic safety if her or she isn't ready to participate in a class. These come in the form of kid friendly videos or pamphlets provided freely by many child protection organizations. This can help you begin conversations with your children regarding safe behavior.

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Discussion Comments


@KJForce -I agree with you. My kids took Aikido lessons for a while and it was great because they got to learn easy techniques that would keep them safe and the classes were really fun. They also learned to avoid confrontation, because that is the purpose of Aikido.

It is meant to provide martial arts self defense in a smart way and use the techniques in a responsible manner. The only thing that my kids did not like about Aikido was that they had to wait too long for their first belt and they lost interest.


a good self-defense class would teach a child to feel good about him/her self, by increasing confidence. It helps them to focus and would make them more aware of their surroundings.

Building confidence builds character and what child doesn't need help there? It could possibly help them to avoid confrontation or deal with situations easier.

Martial arts is a great class for children because it teaches not how to fight, but how to avoid a confrontation. Focus, confidence, self worth and motivation are key to education throughout our life.

Hope this helped.

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