Small Mercies in Self Defence

How do I even start? My daughter is taking a martial arts class this year; she goes three times a week. We started her in it primarily because she was dealing with some bullies last year at school and we wanted her to build some confidence and learn some skills to defend herself if need be.

Sometimes she acts like she wants to be there, other times it appears as though she has no interest and will go off and sit in the corner – not  participating, playing; wasting the instructor’s time. I don’t know what the real issue is; I wonder if she has an attention problem because she does this kind of stuff with other activities that she claims to want to do… But she also made a comment to Jason yesterday that she knows how to fight now and besides, there are no bullies bothering her this year.

How do I make a 6 year old understand that it’s not about the right now. It’s about being prepared. It’s not about the fact that she has a vague idea about how to punch and kick (but doesn’t have force behind it, mind you.) How do I get her to understand that bullies come and go, and she has yet to experience the real need to actually defend herself in a dangerous situation?

Can I even look her in the eye yet and tell her when Mommy got hurt she was older. When Mommy got hurt it wasn’t primary school where teachers were generally present. When Mommy got hurt, it was in private and she was a teenager, and then some as an adult, and Mommy can only thank god for small mercies that it didn’t escalate to worse situations.

Mommy didn’t know how to defend herself and Mommy didn’t know how to get out. Small mercies had my family move away. Small mercies had my friend stumble upon a situation and have the ability and presence of mind to help. Small mercies had someone realize in the moment what they had done, and stop. Small mercies had a husband that didn’t leave, but stood up to protect me – even when he didn’t know all the details.

I’m fully prepared to have these discussions with teenagers… in fact, I have already to an extent here and there. But how do I – or can I even – talk about this with a 6 year old to make her really understand why it’s so important to me that she does this, and does it well?


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