Now that the school year is really getting into full swing, one of the many things that students and their parents may have to deal with is bullying. Despite nation-wide school programs to limit the amount of bullying that children face in school, it’s impossible to eliminate it all. But when parents turn to kids’ self defense courses to help their child protect themselves, they may worry that they are turning children into bullies themselves. Some people may argue that teaching a child to use physical force in any way is a dangerous, slippery slope. Here’s why we disagree.

Kids’ Self Defense Focuses on Communication

Self defense classes do teach children ways to physically protect their own bodies, and methods to quickly diffuse a dangerous situation if necessary. But the main focus of self defense courses is communication and body language. In martial arts training, learning to watch an opponent’s body language is a huge part of learning the art. Children are taught to recognize the signs of escalation, so that they can leave a situation quicker, avoiding the confrontation altogether.

This is quite different from what many parents may believe that kids are learning in self defense class. You won’t be signing your child up for a class that teaches them to punch anything in their way; the course is designed to provide kids with the skills they need to avoid or defuse, not create, violence.

Kids’ Self Defense Teaches Self Confidence

Most bullies are children who lack self confidence – in fact, the reason that they are bullying is to feel a temporary sense of power when they otherwise feel powerless. So to help a child find their own sense of self confidence, you are nurturing a personality that isn’t prone to bully.

Additionally, when a child has self confidence in their own abilities to protect themselves, they are less likely to be a victim of bullying. When kids aren’t subject to bullying themselves, it’s less likely that they’ll feel the need to bully others to regain their sense of power.

Kids’ Self Defense Teaches Teamwork

While martial arts can be practiced alone, and are not “team sports” the way basketball or baseball are, that doesn’t mean that self defense courses don’t focus on a sense of community and teamwork. In martial arts classes, for example, sportsman like conduct is very important, both on and off the mat. All opponents are treated with respect, and classmates are encouraged to help each other along the way.

These same tenets are taught in self defense courses. Kids leave these courses with the overall understanding that all humans deserve to live and to be treated with respect. This does two things in regards to bullying: first, it reduces the chances that a child will be able to bully without remorse. The act of bullying will go against the ideas that they have learned in self defense class.

Second, it will give the child the drive to help others who are being bullied. When they understand that respect is deserved by everyone, and they have the self confidence to stand up to bullies, it’s far more likely that your child will step in to stop bullying, rather than starting it.

Now Is a Great Time

Despite the fears that are often repeated about self defense courses, these classes are not designed to teach a child to become a rampaging vigilante. You won’t be signing your child up to learn “an eye for an eye” or anything of the sort. Instead, you’ll be helping your child develop their natural instincts towards helpfulness, confidence, respect, and teamwork.