Self-Defense: Even a Child can Learn

Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense | 1 comment

      Young children can be taught about self-defense, both to protect them from danger now, and to start them on a path to being able to protect themselves as adults.  They need to know that they can and should use adults to help them stay safe. Adults, however, can’t completely depend on anyone but themselves for protection.

            For example, a young child should walk near grown-ups if around cars, since drivers have an easier time seeing the taller adults.  Also, kids should know that sometimes listening to a parent or guardian‘s “Come here now!” is necessary for their safety.  I use a code word to indicate when immediately following my instructions is a safety issue, and not just my usual dislike of inefficiency. This is word or phrase I wouldn’t normally use, that I say when I need my kids to hurry because of something like a loose dog walking towards us or a fight about to break out in our vicinity.

Both adults and kids need to know that recognizing what type of self-defense situation a person is in can help them find the easiest way out of it. If a situation is recognized to be an accidental confrontation, seeing the situation from the other party’s point of view, instead of arguing back, is best.  Also, if a situation is recognized to be territorial, it’s important to notice that one has the option to leave, instead of fighting.

The predatory situation may require slightly different instruction for kids. Anyone can face danger from bullies or abductors; but children are especially ready to learn the basics of protecting one’s self from these types of dangers. They need to know that there are ways to avoid seeming easy or fun for a bully to pick on, and ways to stand up for one’s self without getting into a fight. Too, kids need to know that there are bad guys out there who might try to take them someplace secret and do painful things to them. They especially need to know that a bad guy like this might be a stranger, might be someone they know, and might act friendly. Children should learn that they can use their brain, body, and voice to get away from someone who they’ve decided could be dangerous.

I struggle to decide if all children need to be taught how to use various body parts to hit people.  On the one hand, it’s probably true that more children than adults can’t be trusted to remember never to hit in anger. On the other hand, for all other members of the animal kingdom, childhood is when one learns to use their body for self-protection. At the very least, kids should be taught that playing rough can be fun; and that a person may, at some point in their life, need to hurt someone else to protect themselves.

I also think children should be taught a few things about how to protect themselves from animals they are likely to encounter, if for no other reason than to prevent irrational fear. Finally, children should be taught that being scared when you are in danger is normal and can help a person protect themselves; but, feeling scared when you are not in danger is silly and a waste of time and energy.


Marcy Shoberg is the creator of “Bring Out Your Inner Bodyguard in Two Weeks or Less” home study course for adults and seniors. See

One Comment

  1. Hi Marcy!

    Very nice Blog. Thank you for writing them they are informative and interesting.

    Master Catherine Chang