Monday, June 23, 2014
Martial Arts Training with Your Child
Should you take classes with your child. In an unequivocal, unambiguous short answer; Yes!
Now for the disclaimer... You and your children are on separate, individual journeys. You should not compare them to yourself, nor vice versa. Don’t let your child’s needs, challenges, or advantages, disrupt your progress. Maintain a healthy balance of parent, co-student, and independent martial artist.
We see two kinds of parent/child relationships that are not healthy, and if you can avoid these, you and your child will be better off.
First, we see parents who believe their child should be far more advanced than the other kids. If the child makes any mistake, the parent is all over them. Their kid needs to kick higher, punch harder, have lower stances, and on and on. The relationship between parent and child degrades through constant ridicule and unfortunately the instructor eventually loses both.
I don’t know if parents are unable to judge fairly and believes their child is falling behind other kids, or they just want their little boy (it’s mostly boys that get yelled at) to be the star. While I do believe that parental coaching is a good thing, it should reinforce the instructor’s expectations, not supplant them. Parents - we’ve seen hundreds of kids and we know the normal variance that can be expected for a given rank at a given age. If your child is off the mark, we’ll tell you.
Secondly, we see parents who make excuses for their child’s limited progress. In a day and age of Americans with Disabilities (ADA), Inclusion Laws, Individual Education Plans (IEP) and other mandates for education, it is quite common to adjust teaching patterns, testing methods, and in some cases expectations as adaptations for children with needs. Don’t tell the instructor that the reason Abigale hasn’t learned her next form (pattern, Hyung, Kata) is because she is ADHD.
If Abby isn’t progressing, it’s likely that she isn’t practicing. That’s where you can help. Bring her to class!
You can motivate your child without ridicule. For instance - YOU have the car keys. Driving them to the training hall and putting on your uniform is great leadership by example. Work hard - they’ll notice. When you screw up (you will), handle it with grace (they’re watching). Celebrate your success as well as theirs - don’t dismiss a promotion as nothing, because then they will dismiss their accomplishments. That’s not humility, it’s misrepresentation.
If you want your child to get the most out of martial arts training, then simply be a good student yourself.