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The Two Things Parents Must Do ...

The 2 things that parents MUST have their children do

Teaching your child to swim is a parent's responsiblity because we wouldn't want anything bad to happen when they are in the water...they could get seriously hurt or worse, we as parents have to make sure they are able to "defend" themselves in the water....and the rest of the time when the kids are on land, it is our responsibility to have them learn the skills they need to defend themselves against all of the dangers that may occur as they go to school, the playground, the mall, the backyard, down the street and all the rest of the places they may end up without you.

At some point your child will be without you in a situation where they have to defend themselves in some way (it's just the way it is people, you know it because you've been through it). Letting them be in "that place" without the skills needed to get out safely is IRRESPONSIBLE.

The skills I am referring to are not only the physical skills (kicking, punching etc.), which are obviously important to have, but also the things that are being discussed at all the professional dojos across the country. Is the baseball/hockey/soccer coach going over what to do when confronted with an adult that makes your kid feel "weird"? Is  coach going over what to do when confronted by bullies? Or by the scary teenager? Is coach telling them that no one has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable? Is he covering "how" to get someone to BACK OFF !!!! or WHO to approach when they get lost? Does coach know that 80% of kids who fight back DON'T get taken by strangers? Does coach teach them HOW to fight back?

I mean, in the past months we've covered topics such as swimming pool safety, wearing helmets, eating a healthy diet, how to deal with bullies, strangers safety tips, conflict avoidance, 5 rules of personal safety, trusting your intuition etc., etc., etc.

Now before anyone goes off on me I want to say that I love baseball, soccer, hockey and all the activities that kids do. I think all of the coaches and assistants do an awesome job at building character and teaching how to work as a team, teaching kids how to win gracefully and lose with dignity.

Parents, absolutely sign your kids up to these activities but also teach them how to swim and definitely put them in a good martial arts program.

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Kristen Harnisch July 28, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I absolutely agree--we continue to work on swimming, my son is enrolled in a martial arts program and LOVES it and I'm looking for a self-defense program that my 11 year-old daughter and myself can take together. One thing I'd add: a few times a year, I have my kids practice screaming as loud as they can, "Help!" or "This is a stranger!" over and over again, so they get comfortable with it. I also remind them to kick as they scream and fight the attacker off. I do this because I have trained my children to be very polite, but as a result, they are sometimes too polite to strangers. We're working on awareness and making them feel comfortable screaming and making a scene if someone tries to take them or touch them.
Glenn Wolff, LCSW July 30, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Thanks Manny. My son is in a martial arts program -- it has boosted his self-esteem immeasurably. Sincerely, Glenn Wolff, LCSW
Jose Marti August 01, 2012 at 02:47 AM
As a martial artist for forty years I can say with 100 percent certainty that I learned more from martial arts than any college I have graduated from. No activity or sport can compare.

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