Question

Teaching Self-Defense to Preschool Grandson

Question:

My firstborn grandson is 3 1/2 years old. It seems it’s in the nature of most males to be wired for confrontation and “combat.” I’d like to teach my grandson to first avoid fighting and violence, but if there is no other choice, then to be able to defend himself. Do you think it’s acceptable to begin teaching self-defense fighting techniques at this age?

Response:

While there is much evidence to support the fact that boys tend to be more physically aggressive than girls (across all cultures), there is some disagreement as to the cause of the aggression. Most experts believe that it is a combination of physiological differences and social learning.

Consult with his parents first and if they give you permission to start helping your grandson, you can begin by preparing him to prevent being the target of aggression from other children by teaching him some important social skills that are known to reduce the chance that a child will be hurt by another child.

Teach him to share with you and other family members or friends and to take turns when playing simple games. Help him build confidence in himself by mastering physical and social skills. Children who are perceived by other children as confident are also less likely to be targeted for physical aggression. Be available to help him recover when he fails so he learns that any failure is just a reason to keep trying and develop perseverance rather than an excuse to give up.

Finally, I encourage you to consult with an expert in teaching children self-defense who is also a Christian. There are many programs that blend self-defense training with Biblical principles and these can be very effective at a young age.

While I typically think it is best for kids to start these and other structured training programs once they have reached about 6 years of age, you may be able to find a program that your grandson’s parents, and you, feel comfortable with.

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