As a good parent, you sign your child up; they love classes for a few months, and then they begin to give you grief about going to class. They may want to play with friends, play video games or just can’t seem to switch gears after school, homework or camp. Parents will often give in because they figure if the child doesn’t want to go, they don’t want to pay. The unfortunate result is that the child will learn that if they squawk loudly enough, their parents will comply. They also learn that they can quit if they just don’t plain feel like doing something. Here are some tips for parents who value martial arts training for their kids:
- Have a set routine between school/camp and karate class. Be aware that kids feel a physical and mental “crash” after school or summer camp. Have a special snack on karate day and be careful about TV and video use during this time. Kids get “sucked in” and shifting their focus from these things is never easy. Make some firm rules about no device use before responsibilities like karate class. Some children may do better if there is a snack waiting in the car and they come straight to the dojo.
- Make your child personally accountable. Treat martial arts class the same as you would a job; training is a responsibility, much like your own job. If a child is sick, have THEM call the dojo to let us know they will not be in. If they do not wish to go to class, make THEM call the dojo and give a reason why. This is great practice of a life skill as well as practice communicating with adults. They also learn that some decisions are not without a degree of confrontation. This is a great way to help them develop a work ethic.
- Have a list of chores ready. If a child doesn’t want to go to class, have a list of chores that they can do during the entire time they would be in class. Tell them they MUST be productive; taking karate class suddenly looks like a much better choice than washing the kitchen floor! Never allow device use or playtime with friends during what would be karate time.
- Treat claims of “not feeling well” very seriously. If they say they want to skip because they feel ill, send them to bed early with no TV, devices or snacks. Tell them you will take them to the Dr. if they are too ill to participate in class.
- Attend social events such a Movie Night It is so common for kids to get in an occasional slump. When they attend social events they create friendships with other students . This gives students a sense that they belong to something and they look forward to seeing friends in class. Arriving a few minutes before class also gives kids a chance to socialize with their karate friends.
- Reward them for their achievements in class. Be sure to take notice even if it is something simple such as showing good focus. Compliment them and tell them how proud you are that they train. Kids want to please their parents; both parents should make a point to watch some classes when they can. If you can’t watch, ask them often to show you what they learned. Incorporate karate into whatever reward system you already use at home. Take their picture, make a big deal about their karate and rank achievements.
- Communicate with your instructors! More often than not, kids fuss before class but are fine once they get there. If we know someone is having a rough spot, we are happy to work with them. Sometimes a private lesson does a world of good too. We ALWAYS alert a parent if we feel their child is not enjoying any part of their training.
Every parent knows that their kids are going to test them. Of course you know that “pick your battles” does not mean give in because you don’t want to deal with their protests. Karate is more than a sport and self-defense. In todays modern society it is a great way to develop life skills and attitudes that will last a lifetime. Work with your instructors to keep your kids training!