Though parents frequently sign their daughters up for ballet and gymnastics, kickboxing is just as an effective exercise and it focuses more on developing skills more so than physical appearance. The thought of enrolling your daughter in a combat sport might seem scary, but the right instructor and gym will help your daughter hone her skills in a safe and nurturing environment.
Cardio vs. Contact
Cardio kickboxing is similar to an aerobics class, except your child will learn how to hit and kick. She won't, however, actually land these punches, which means cardio kickboxing doesn't offer much practice for self-defense. However, contact-based kickboxing, as its name suggests, is a contact sport in which your daughter will land real blows against an opponent when she gains enough skill to do so. Cardio kickboxing is a safer option, particularly for younger children. If your daughter's old enough to understand the risks and you trust her judgment, though, you might let her test contact kickboxing. Make your decision based on your child's level of development and skill. Very young children with poor balance should never be involved in contact kickboxing, and fearful children may be intimidated by the thought of hitting someone else. Children under the age of three or four should not be enrolled in kickboxing at all.
Whether your child enrolls in cardio or contact kickboxing, she'll gain balance and coordination that can help her in a wide variety of sports. Kickboxing can raise self-esteem by emphasizing strength and skill rather than appearance. Girls who enroll in contact kickboxing may become less fearful if they know they can physically defend themselves if they have to. As a cardiovascular activity, kickboxing can also help your child maintain a healthy weight, reduce her risk of cardiovascular disease and even improve her sleep quality, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Risks and Safety Considerations
Cardio kickboxing poses risks similar to other sports, including muscular injuries, broken bones and dehydration. Contact kickboxing poses more serious health risks, including head injuries. Proper equipment and training, however, can help minimize these risks. Ensure your daughter always wears protective gear, including a helmet and pads. If she tries contact kickboxing, don't allow her to fight anyone until she's gained the skills needed to anticipate the movements of an opponent and intelligently defend herself. If she's clumsy or fearful, you might want to steer her away from contact kickboxing altogether.
Choosing a Gym
The right instructor and the right gym can help your daughter reap the most out of kickboxing. Choose a class geared toward children with an instructor who has experience working with young girls. Talk to the instructor first to determine if you like and trust him or her, and be sure to ask about safety precautions taken in class. Investigate the gym carefully. Avoid places that have ripped or otherwise damaged equipment. Find out about health and safety procedures such as equipment cleaning and avoid gyms with equipment or facilities that look dirty or neglected.