Assisting your Child in Being More Mature and Responsible

There is no such thing as a perfect child, perfect teacher, or perfect parent. With schedules these days the activities and endless things can sometimes get us a little bogged down and taking the path of least resistance. Raising mature and responsible children is certainly a full-time job and raising mature and responsible karate students can have its challenges too. Here are some simple strategies that I know you already know but does not hurt to be reminded of again. If they work at the dojo, they might just work at home too.

Sometimes in karate class when kids act little silly or a little babyish it usually comes down to them seeking attention. Sometimes it is a self-esteem or focus issue, but it does not have to define the student’s identity. We try to overlook and correct the behaviour so as not to reward it when instructing the lesson. We really do try our best to make our students at First Choice Martial Arts a little more mature and responsible members of our community.

Here are 5 useful tips that have helped us teach to a greater level of maturity in each age group at our martial arts school.

1. Respecting space. In a martial arts lesson this is easier than ever given COVID-19 has set up some boundaries for us in the classroom. Students understand that there are rules to conform to in the lesson and it is not free time or free play. In a structured class or school room this makes for a better student that is more engaged and eager to learn. As a parent I constantly remind my children of their boundaries and what they should and should not do when they are at their friends houses. I once heard a story about a child opening a friend’s refrigerator on a playdate and asked the question “What do you guys have to drink?” Sure, it is great that this child felt that comfortable at his friend’s house however it would be more polite to ask the question in a respectful way.

2. Tone. When teaching karate sometimes we might yell out to the kids “Are you guys ready?” and they will inevitably answer “Yes sir!” with a loud yell. This is great as they are matching our tone in the classroom and picking up on the subtle cues that we are giving them. On the other hand, when we are sitting down and having a message of the week, whether it be about respect or concentration our tone might be a lot softer. If we then asked them “Do you understand?” we wouldn’t expect them to scream out “Yes sir!” but the answer in a more subtle way. When kids match the teachers tone, they rise up to a greater maturity level in their lesson allowing for better comprehension. Sometimes as parents we are around our children so much that we fail to pick up on these little subtle tones and it’s never a bad idea to take a second listen.

3. Raise with expectation. As a martial arts instructor there are certain things that we expect in the classroom that are of the utmost importance. A perfect example is I always expect students to raise their hand when they have something to say and not speak out of turn. This creates a structured learning environment and reminds the students of their role in the classroom. As parents it is great that our kids express themselves, but we should remind them that there may be a time and place on how to do that. Perhaps when you are on an important business call your child should understand the rules of engagement during that time. It is not that we do not want to see them express themselves we just want them to do it when the time is appropriate.

4.Give them an opportunity to think and answer for themself. Sure, children are young and when you ask them a question, they may take a pause to really calculate their thoughts before they respond. This is great as it shows that they are using a little bit of logic and although it might take them a bit to respond it is important to give them the time. Surely if it becomes a stressful situation then it is great to step in as a parent, teacher or instructor and maybe answer or guide them along. But often we as parents like to take the path with least resistance and when in the company of our child will often answer or do the thinking for them to move them along. This only hinders their creativity and if we can just be a little bit more patient it will help them become a little bit more mature in their development.

5. Manners. This goes without saying, not only is it the right thing to do but kids that are polite tend to get treated a little better by their peers. Anytime your child has an issue whether it be martial arts, school, or extracurricular activities the respectful child is likely going to be given the benefit of the doubt when they run into a problem or challenge. It is great to see kids in karate class show tremendous respect yet at the same time can be highly competitive in nature. To me this is a great quality that should be celebrated. As parents we always cover the basics of please and thank you but there are a lot of other manners that are as equally important. We have assistants that help in our classes that will leave voicemails or send emails when they volunteer their time, and they cannot make the class. Just the other day, one or assistants Sofia confirmed her assisting class as she had been away. This shows great consideration, and it is a true testament to her character. Being polite can take on many shapes and sizes and I am happy that our students at FCMA are so considerate!

Although there is no playbook on the road to responsibility there are always things that we can do to get there faster. I am not saying that kids should not be kids but when I poll our parents on why they bring their children to martial arts it’s not usually for play time. The answers I often hear are structure, discipline, concentration, and confidence. If these are important character traits for them to master, then as parents we must continually look for ways to help these kids get there faster.

“The greatest gift you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence” Dennis Waitley

Good luck

Sensei Chris