If I hear one more person on Facebook say “I’m bored”, I am going to go off the rails! We think that the phone always has to ring, that people always have to be texting us, or that we must have someone to hang out with. What is wrong with hanging out with yourself? You must learn to like yourself and your own company. One of the things the martial arts have taught me is to be strong on my own.
Standing strong…alone. How can we encourage our children to stand on their own two feet? Karate classes can help in many ways. Let’s look at them.
Step Aside and Let Another Adult Take Over
As much as it is a temptation to always be with your young child, they need to learn to trust other adults in a supervised setting. Try leaving your child for small periods of time during karate class. By doing so, they will learn that they are still safe without your presence. Before long, they will be confident enough to do an entire class without you being present if need be.
Smaller Goals Over Time Build Their Confidence
The “little goals” or gradings at the end of each term add up to big ones over a period of years. As kids set the goal to get to that next rank they will learn how their attitude, attendance, and self discipline will achieve it. Each achievement enhances the child’s self-confidence and they start learning that “they did this on their own”. The martial arts are individual, not team sports. The kids learn to count on themselves, and they never, ever ride the bench or sit out just because they “aren’t as good as the rest of the team”.
Children Need to Fail Every So Often
Rising from disappointment is one of life’s most important lessons to learn. By experiencing failure and overcoming it, the child will grow into a strong, independent adult. I have seen it time after time over the last twenty years of teaching. Some of the strongest efforts on our advanced gradings were from students who failed to achieve their goals in prior tests. They decided for themselves that they really wanted to pass and gave it their all.
Instructor for a Day
We sometimes let the kids take each other through warm-up activities or even come up to the front of the class to demonstrate a technique. We also consistently ask them questions. Encouraging them to talk or demonstrate builds up their confidence and is important for their feeling of independence. It also keeps the karate class engaged.
We Praise Our Karate Kids
Children are highly motivated by recognition and approval. Praising them for a job well done will increase their self-esteem and self-reliance. We are careful, however, to not over do it, as excessive praise teaches children to seek outside approval, thus making them more vulnerable to peer pressure. We look to find something each child does well, and praise them publicly for it.
Their Friends Dropped Out
Many kids joined karate classes with their friends. The friends dropped out for one reason or another, but they are still there, training every week. They have learned one of life’s most important lessons. You are not dependent on others for fun, or success in life. You can do it on your own.
Being Able To Stand Up for Themselves
As our students become more confident in themselves they are less likely to be targeted by bullies. Many parents have commented that since their child has been in martial arts, the bullying has stopped, even though not one fight had taken place. This ability to stand up for themselves makes children less susceptible to peer pressure and builds their independence.
Let Your Children Make Financial Transactions and Interact With Adults
The parents of my students taught me this one. They send their child up to the front desk with their money, the child says his or her name to check in, and hands me the money. They even thank me. I should be thanking them! This is a very smart thing to encourage a child to do, as it builds their confidence and ability to function in the world independently. Brilliant!
Independence is the greatest gift you can pass on to your child; it will greatly contribute to their success later in life. Karate classes can greatly assist in this effort. Have karate classes helped you to become more independent?