Answer: Our way of teaching introduces concepts and skills in ways that are designed to be fun rather than scary. We can’t promise that your child won’t be scared, but of thousands of children trained by Kidpower, not one parent has come back to us to complain that their child became more frightened.
Instead, most parents tell us that their children feel less anxious after participating in a workshop, and that they have better tools for handling fears when they come up. We focus on what children need to do, rather than on what the problems are. For example, instead of “burning prevention,” we teach children Fire Safety skills. Instead of “drowning prevention,” we teach children Water Safety skills. In the same way, it works best to teach children “People Safety” skills instead of going into detail about the ways in which people can be harmful to others.
Answer: We tell our students that we believe most people are good, but that since a few people with problems might do bad things, we don’t have to worry, we just have safety rules to follow. This strong statement – most people are good – is a powerful way to build a positive world-view.
Often for younger children, we start by teaching about safety with animals – that most animals are wonderful and won’t hurt us, but that their safety rule is to move away and check first with their adults before letting an animal they don’t know well get close to them. We then explain that the safety rules about people they don’t know well are the same as the rules about animals.
Answer: We often have people who ask about the span of ages included in our different workshops for the general public. The skills that are taught in all of our workshops, from young children all the way up to older adults, are very similar. They are just presented in different contexts appropriate for each individual. We do this by introducing concepts in language that is appropriate for different ages and life situations by tailoring the individual role-plays to be relevant to each participant’s needs.
In our children’s workshops, we find that both older and younger kids in families or mixed groups benefit greatly from learning the skills together. The most basic skills we present to younger children might seem obvious, but are extremely useful for older kids to be coached in as well.
Likewise, role-plays done with older kids might not be relevant to a younger child, but can help them build awareness about situations that they might encounter as they get older. For example, a role-play with an older child might focus on the child being alone or with friends at the movies, whereas a comparable role-play for a younger child would focus on the child being at the movies with a parent or adult.
In our teen workshops, we have everything from young people who are just starting to go out in the world independently to young people who are getting ready to leave home. Again, most students of different ages really do seem to enjoy supporting each other’s learning.
Since our workshops are success-based, they focus on learning safety skills in a positive way. This approach builds confidence and awareness with safety and does not leave the participant fearful, making the skills appropriate for all ages.
Answer: In general, a child who is in a regular classroom without a personal assistant can do fine in a regular public workshop. Children who need assistance for bodily functions, such as using the restroom or eating, will need a different class structure in order to have their learning best supported. We often work with organizations and schools to provide this kind of adapted training. The best way to assess which program would be best for your family is to contact our office and let us know about your child’s specific situation.
Answer: Making the time for prevention of problems of any kind is challenging for most families. There is always something that can seem more urgent at any given time. However, giving children the tools to protect themselves from harm before they need them is much better than waiting until after something bad has happened. Also, most of our students find that these tools equip them to get more out of their lives because they are better able to speak up for themselves and others.
Answer: We wish we could have Kidpower workshops available often in every community. However, it takes a great deal of time and commitment to become an instructor with our organization and we don’t have the staff to offer many workshops for the general public. The fact that our programs are usually just over one evening, day or weekend makes it possible for families to travel longer distances and to make the trip into a special adventure. People who want a program close to home at a convenient time can choose to organize this workshop privately for their school, business, organization, or circle of friends and family.
Answer: More than half of the young people who come to our training tell their parents that they don’t want to come before the workshop. Almost all of our students have a great time once we get started, but sometimes they are bitterly arguing with their parents all the way to the door.
This resistance is often because they really don’t know what is going to happen in the class. Sometimes their own fears about the issues make them scared or make them say that it is too boring. They also might think that they know it all already. Parents need to understand that this is a health and safety issue, not a recreational issue and to treat going to the class like other important have-to’s.
Even if a child understands all the concepts, this is not the same as having the chance to practice all the skills needed to follow those concepts. Just as with any other skill, repetition is likely to improve competence.
Often, after coming to one of our adult evening workshops, parents find that they feel much more confident about making this a requirement rather than a choice because they have a clearer picture of how the Kidpower program works.
Answer: Part of what motivated us to develop Kidpower was hearing from parents whose children had already been harmed. These wonderful parents had always believed that something like this would never happen to them because they had told their child all the safety rules and their child seemed to understand.
We found in our research that people under stress tend to do what they’ve practiced rather than what they’ve been told. This is why we have children practice making wise choices in a wide variety of situations—from de-escalating confrontations with bullies, to being aware enough to leave a situation before trouble ever starts, to getting away and running for help if necessary.
Answer: Many martial arts teachers encourage their students to participate in our programs and many of the people we work with are high ranking martial artists including Carol Middleton, who is a 7th dan in Karate, and co-founder of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation and our co-Founder Timothy Dunphy, who is a 6th Dan and international champion in his form of Taekwondo.
We see the martial arts or other physical activities that build strength, awareness, and coordination as being like long-term health care, and Kidpower as being like emergency medicine. Our programs work quickly to help parents and kids learn a common language for dealing with safety issues. Our students get a lot out of practicing dealing with different situations with their parents since their parents know what is happening in their lives. We also teach children a whole range of skills including how to set appropriate boundaries with people they know and how to de-escalate situations in addition to self-defense.
Answer: Most school-based programs are designed to build awareness but don’t provide children with a lot of opportunity for practicing skills together with their parents. The best way to become truly proficient with any skill is to practice in situations that are relevant to your life. Children need to get the message from their adults that these skills as important. In the same way that you go to more than one cooking class if you want to be a great cook, you and your child will benefit from more than one type of self-protection training.
Answer: As a charitable educational organization, we do not want money to be the reason that anyone would not have our training. At the same time, we are not supported by any large government grants and we depend on class fees and donations in order to be able to offer our services. This is a professional high quality training and the fee requested is actually considerably lower than our true cost, which is subsidized by volunteer time.
We seek grant support and charitable donations for services for young people in high-risk situations or for people with special needs and often partner with groups to raise these funds together. For our public workshops, we ask that people look honestly at their financial situation and then pay as much of the fee as they can. They can request scholarship help to cover the difference.
My child is older than your recommended age for the workshop we’d like to attend. Is it okay for her or him to come?
Answer: The skills are the same no matter how old or young you are. Adults often tell us that they learn a lot for their own personal safety when they come to a children’s program. It can be very beneficial to have an older child come to a workshop along with a younger sibling to help develop a common understanding about People Safety for the whole family.
Whether the child will be okay with this depends on the child and the approach taken. A child who is older than the recommended age needs to know ahead of time that we will be teaching in a way that is aimed at younger children, so that some things might seem a little silly – but that these are skills that are for your whole family including the grown-ups. Most often children who feel “too old” for a workshop will come around if there is a powerful positive adult acting as a role model by showing that these skills are important.
My three-year-old child is very mature for his or her age. Can you make an exception about your rule that the Parent-Child Workshop is for five-year-olds?
Answer: Although our workshops are very active and engaging, we have found that two hours of this level of directed learning is just too long for even very mature three-year-olds. Some four and even five-year-olds occasionally will find the workshop on the long side.
People who have brought their three-year-olds have almost always had to take them out or take many extra breaks and miss part of the program. Instead, if your child is 3-5 years old, we strongly encourage you to participate in one of our Starting Strong workshops. These programs will prepare you to begin discussing and practicing skills in an age-appropriate way. Young children really learn these skills best when they are incorporated into everyday life, and parent education helps parents do that.
Why do you restrict mature five-year-olds from coming to the Parent-Child Full Force Workshop or the Weekend Family Workshop?
Answer: First of all, these workshops are longer than some kindergarten school days. So, it’s a long time for a young person to have her activities directed, and it’s a lot of information to absorb. These things can make a younger child feel bored or irritable.
Our experience is that children younger than 6 have a much higher risk of becoming confused, scared, or upset as a result of the padded suit and “pretend attacker” that makes the full-force work possible. Also, because young children live very much “in the moment” and are impulsive, expecting them to be able to keep the physical skills “in context” (i.e. ‘we only use these skills as a last resort’), and to be able to prevent themselves from using the skills when they are angry or upset is not developmentally appropriate.
Answer: A parent or another adult primary caregiver is required to attend with their children because children need to see their adults learning these skills too and to have the benefit of practicing with their adults.
The Kidpower Parent Child Workshop is designed for the child and caregiver to have a shared experience that will help them communicate about safety and build the skills over time. This means that the child and the adult should be VERY involved in each other’s lives.
Answer: We strongly encourage families and individuals who have had traumatic experiences to get professional counseling before coming to one of our workshops. Our workshops are designed to be safe and supportive and we focus on learning skills rather than on the reasons for learning them.
At the same time, it is completely natural for feelings to come up when dealing with issues that have been upsetting in the past. Our instructors are all excellent at supporting people if that happens and working with them based on where they are now.
However, we do NOT provide counseling. This is a skill-building program and not therapy. This means that, while our staff can be supportive of anyone who has upset feelings, we are not able to process what has happened in the past through our program.
Answer: We keep personal information about our students confidential to people outside our organization unless we have their permission or the permission of their parents or guardians to share their stories. However, many people have very similar stories, so it is common for one of our students to read about an experience that was very close to what happened to her or him. The exception is that we are ethically committed to reporting any child abuse that is not already being addressed.
I would like my daughter to take your Teenpower workshop but am afraid that the content might be too mature. Is this workshop right for my child?
Answer: Young people are different and families are different and you know what’s best for your child better than we do. Our emphasis is on skills for preventing, avoiding, de-escalating, or leaving a difficult situation. Most parents tell us that they feel better having their teens exposed for the ‘first time’ to some challenging situations in a safe, supportive, success-based, controlled environment instead of in real life. We go step-by-step, coaching students so they experience success every step of the way.
The basic premise for most practices in Teenpower is that the student is moving through the world independently: walking down the sidewalk, riding public transit, going to stores alone. Are these situations your child finds herself in frequently at this point in life, or is your family working with those issues of independence right now? If so, even an older more mature twelve-year-old may be a good candidate for Teenpower.
If you are worried about the foul language used in a Teenpower workshop, we recommend that you start with the Parent-Child Full Force Level 1 and Level 2 workshops, FamilyPower Workshop (California only), or a Weekend Family Workshop.
Answer: The skills we teach work for most people, most of the time. They can be adapted for most kinds of abilities. We guide students through a successful practice so that they have the opportunity to experience using the power of their bodies effectively. We teach the physical skills slowly and clearly, step by step and give support, as students need it. People do not need to be athletic, strong, big, coordinated, or anything else to learn powerful and effective self-defense skills.