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Teaching Self-defence: Friendship skills

If the only tool children have is a hammer, everything is going to look like a nail. For children to use physical self-defence skills responsibly, they need to have verbal conflict communication and friendship skills that they can try first.

Children go through different developmental stages which influence their friendships. Based on interviews conducted by psychologist Robert Selman with children of varying ages, friendships develop through 5 phases. You can read more about these stages in the Psychology Today article “Childrens' growing friendships”. To summarise:

A picture of friendship. Girls hugging.
  • 3-6 year olds are momentary playmates – the focus is on the game, not the person. If friends want to play different games, they often say that they are not friends any more.
  • 5-9 year olds appreciate assistance – Friends are children who do nice things for them. They care a lot about friendship and may put up with a not-so-nice friend, just so they can have a friend.
  • 7-12 year olds appreciate reciprocity, but can be very rule based. They know that they need to contribute to friendships but expect favours to be returned almost immediately.
  • 8-15 year olds develop more supportive friendships by confiding thoughts and feelings with their friends and helping each other solve problems. They may feel very possessive of their friends at this stage.
  • 12 + Mature friendships develop characterised by emotional closeness, acceptance of differences and less possessive trust and support.

Friendship skills at Personal Strength

Children need to work through these stages themselves. But it can help to have the language and confidence to join in with others, and to talk things through when problems arise in friendships, which they inevitably do. Personal Strength mat-chats with 5-8 year olds practice confidently asking to play, and explore the value of inclusiveness; mat-chats with 8-12 year olds practice talking through friendship difficulties; and mat-chats with teens focus on boundaries, rights, and consent in friendship.

S L
UPDATE: it's been almost 5 years since I left this review. We're still going strong! I'm still training with Tim 💪 My now 10-year-old son is still doing Ninjas classes 👍 Great local gym with a very welcoming environment. I've been training with Tim for almost 2 years and I always enjoyed his personalised approach which helped me to achieve my goals. Tim is always very encouraging and makes each training session challenging, but rewarding. Apart from training adults, Tim is excellent working with kids and my 5.5yo son is always looking forward for his next Little Ninjas classes, which he started as a 3-year-old. Kids classes are always fun, with a mix of games and various exercises teaching self-awareness and safety. I would definitely recommend FunFit to everyone.
S L
2022-05-16
Neil G
Lovely atmosphere. It’s a great place to spend time with your child. Tim and his family are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. It’s perfect for fun - plus introduces genuine concepts of discipline to youngsters.
Neil G
2020-10-30
Karen Wakil
Fantastic mix of fitness, self-defence and life skills in a fun environment. Builds confidence, respect and strength - both physical and mental - in the children. Highly recommend!
Karen Wakil
2020-10-27
Estelle Demontrond-Box
My boy really enjoys Tim's teenagers' fitness classes: Tim is very encouraging and motivating and has a good sense of humour! The class is very energetic and fun! Highly recommend!
Estelle Demontrond-Box
2020-10-16
Edward Kim
Tim always keeps the workouts fresh and interesting and was always committed to safety. Workouts were always challenging but catered to the level you were at. Never a boring session and looked forward to them always. Great community feel and music too! Only reason I'm not going anymore is because I moved to the other side of Sydney.
Edward Kim
2020-06-03
Ruth Hawkins
Both my 4 year old girl and 6 year boy absolutely love the classes. They've done lots of other activities over the years but there's something about being a little ninja that makes them light up and they enjoy every minute of the class.
Ruth Hawkins
2020-02-04
Michael Darcy
Great classes. My daughter loves them. They're a good mix of fun, fitness, knowledge and skills. An awesome find.
Michael Darcy
2019-12-30
Pablo Lillo
Very friendly people and staff, classes are fun and engaging!
Pablo Lillo
2019-12-25
Vfr Doug
My 6 year old son has been attending Mini Ninjas for almost a year and loves it! Tim is a natural with kids, he has the right balance of humour, fun and discipline to keep the whole class motivated and engaged. As well as having a great time and a good workout, our son is gaining physical confidence, self discipline and respect for others. Having trained in different martial art clubs when I was younger, I can see Tim has all the right qualities, values and knowledge you would want to be teaching our children.
Vfr Doug
2019-10-24
Zoe Jenkins
My son joined mini ninja class as a 3 years old. He has been excited to go every week. Tim is extremely good with engaging young kids with various activities. The whole lesson is filled with kids' joy and laugh. It's also great entertainment for parents to watch on the side. I can see my son has been improving in protecting himself with all the self defence actions he learned from Tim, which is very important for kids safety.
Zoe Jenkins
2019-09-26
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