getting kids to listen to you about safety and self defence

What’s the top 3 skills a father should teach their daughter to keep them safe & how to get them to listen?

Having kids is tough enough, but getting them to listen to your advice on safety is almost impossible.

I’m a professional Krav Maga (Self Defence) coach and everyday I help people build their confidence and keep safe through this great system of self defence.

But when you’re a father and your kids are so used to martial arts information.

They’ve seen the skills 1000’s of times.

They’ll hear the valuable coaching information every week.

It does not stop you from worrying as a father or question whether they’ve taken onboard everything you want them to know about personal safety. 

As a parent with a gorgeous and smart 17 year daughter.

The more you know about the business of violence, the more you worry about your child’s safety.

Let’s face it, when your kids are 17.

They’ve been living an almost independent life for a number of years.

Each year, as they get  a little older. There’s also a little more danger in their lives as they venture further from home for longer periods of time.

It’s part of growing up and they need some freedom and this risk to mature safely. 

But when they are preparing to leave home.

How do you put a wise head on young shoulders?

How do you talk so that kids will listen? 

We’ll, here’s my tips on what they should know about self defence  and how to get them to listen.  

The first thing to consider in keeping your kids safe is that training in a martial arts class is not usually the answer. 

This is because there’s too many rules and techniques in martial arts. 

I’ll be shot by my colleagues in the industry for saying this but most martial arts clubs are 

safe environments and people are always nice and respectful in a martial arts centre. 

This is great for confidence but not for self defence because ‘Violence is not like this’. 

People that you may think are your friends, after a drink or two act like creeps, take liberties and can go from nice to hostile in under 3 seconds.  

Peer pressure from a friend group, trying to encourage you to do something you’re not comfortable with can end in a violent confrontation.

This is nothing like learning a spin hook kick or blocking a well timed punch that you’re expecting. 

So how do you talk about safety, ‘so that your kids will listen?’.

If you have ever tried to coach your own kids in a skill that you are very good at.

Up to the ages of around 6, the kids think that you’re a genius.

These are happy days.

Then from 7 years old to around 27 years old.

getting kids to listen to you about safety and self defence

You’re thought of as annoying at best.

At worst, you may even be seen as irrelevant.

I’m being a bit black and white here, as if you’ve invested enough time in your kids they are likely to actively listen a little.  

But it’s not until your kids are in their 20’s. Potentially not even until they are buying their first house that they’ll be fully focused on your worldly wisdom once more.   

In between these ages, I’ve only found 3 ways that really work for getting the kids to listen about personal safety.

Way #1…

Make it more relevant. For example, if they have a friend who they can attend a self defend course with. 

They’ll listen to this friends advice, hanging on every word.

Even though the friend may only have a few weeks of self defence experience or just attended their first 3 hour workshop.

You may have 35 years experience as a martial artist but…

It’s irrelevant data coming from you, but amazing info if the friend talks about it.

If you have a friend that coaches self defence that is closer to your child’s age, this can also be a great learning strategy.

Remember I’m talking about self defence and not a martial arts class. 

Way #2 frame the knowledge in a way that is a win win.

For example, if you go out for a day shopping with your child. They’ll be in the right frame of mind for you to ask their opinion on something.

Maybe a discussion over cake and coffee on a self defence situation.

It’s a little sneaky but you may slip a little wisdom in with the cappuccino this way.

Watching a film together on the topic that would also interest your child may also help. It’s a little dated for a 17 year, but Enough with Jennifer Lopez was great in its day.

Using ultimatums as a way for imparting wisdom, is a terrible strategy. 

Skip this as it just fosters resentment.

Likewise with ethical bribes, great in principle but the reality is that their focus goes back to being very limited. 

So you finally find a way to get their attention about safety or self defence.

This is precious time, so what the flip and flop should they be learning that will make the most impact in the least amount of time.

In the Krav Maga world, it’s known as ME ME ME or Maximum Effectiveness, Maximum Efficiency with the Minimal amount of Effort.

So here’s my top 3 things.

Yes, there’s a million other bits of information you would love them to know about. 

But over a coffee and limited time training.

This may be as good as it gets…

Thing #1. Most problems can be avoided by being aware of your personal space.

If people get in your space and its unwelcome attention. Teach the kids to be blunt, direct and clear.

You should also demonstrate this behaviour in life, as kids still learn by mimicking their parents. 

This does not make them a bad person.

Nice people will not bother you or take it personal.

But all 17 year old daughters need a non negotiable way of telling someone to get lost.

Most people with bad intentions take this as a hint not to mess with you. It’s their indicator to move onto someone or somewhere else.

Other people will try to negotiate with you about getting their way.

If someone is bothering you and you tell them to take a walk, then continue talking to them. You’ve immediately discounted the value of your words.

Remember your statement of “No”, “Get Lost”, “Flip the hell away now” is non negotiable.

Create a space and fill it i..e physically slam that door closed or get out of there and leave nothing but dust in your tracks.


Thing #2.

Learn how to strike with the most amount of power to the target that has the most impact. You do not need fancy martial arts moves if you know how to do this.

There is a saying in Krav Maga that “…the leg of a baby is stronger than the balls of muhammad ali” 

You don’t need to be big to hurt someone. Just a little skill with generating your bodies potential power and where to focus this energy.  

krav maga quotes that your child should know about self defence


Thing # 3.

Develop balance,  how to stay on your feet with your hands up. Fun activities are ideal for this from wake-boarding, ice skating, skiing and even trampolining.

Here martial arts training is also ideal. If it’s fun learning experience, then your kids will also get good at breaking someone else’s balance too.

If you can stay on your feet in a situation where someone is attacking you.


You can find an opportunity to generate striking power, get away or get enough attention that someone may help you.

There’s lot you can learn from martial arts that will help you in life, but these 3 self defence skills follow the Pareto principle.  That’s 80% of what you need for self defence comes from 20% of your skill base. 

If you have limited time to help your child with safety, these 3 tips are a great place to start and NOW is always the perfect time to get them into their sub-conscious. 

Raising happy, confident kids who can stay safe is an important goal for us parents.

So after swimming, learning these 3 tips is vital to keeping them safe should the unthinkable happen.

Remember, learning a martial art for fun is different to learning a martial art for self-protection.

For more tips about self defence, you can visit our blog

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What’s the top 3 skills a father should teach their daughter to keep them safe & how to get them to listen?




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