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As a parent, I have two non-negotiables for my kids: they must learn how to swim and they must learn self-defense.

I wish I could say these derived from being an overly cautious and wise mom, but the truth is that these non-negotiables came about because my then 4-year-old almost drowned. That moment scared me enough to immediately enroll my kids in swimming lessons. Fortunately, my second non-negotiable didn’t stem from a bullying incident or dangerous encounter with a stranger. But just like the traumatic pool experience, why wait for something tragic to happen before taking action?

Unfortunately, the world can be a dangerous place, and children are often the most vulnerable targets of violence and abuse. That’s why teaching self-defense is not just a “nice to have” skill but a crucial one that should be included in every child’s education.

A current example that highlights the importance of self-defense for kids is the rise of bullying in schools. According to recent statistics, one in five students reports being bullied. Bullying can cause long-term emotional trauma and can even lead to physical harm. By teaching children self-defense, they can learn how to protect themselves from bullies and stand up for themselves confidently. Moreover, self-defense can help children develop resilience and self-esteem, making them less likely to become targets of bullies in the first place.

Like my son, children may exhibit reluctance in the beginning and may not be initially interested at first, but it’s important to emphasize that it’s no different than learning a subject in school they may not like. Just like math or science, self-defense is an integral and necessary skill for their overall benefit and well-being. By exposing them to self-defense, you are giving them a valuable tool that they can use for the rest of their lives.

Another important aspect of self-defense is that it encourages your children to speak up and assert themselves. Teaching our children that it’s okay to say “no” and to stand up for themselves urges our children to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Ultimately, as parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure our children’s safety and well-being. Self-defense is an important aspect of that responsibility. By teaching our children self-defense, we’re providing them with a valuable life skill that they can carry with them into adulthood. It’s a non-negotiable that every parent should consider.