As parents, there is nothing that terrifies us more than watching our kids give up easily. Have you ever watched your kid give up while trying to peel a clementine and worry if they are going to have the drive to push through challenges when life gets tough?
Every month at Pro Martial Arts Waterloo we discuss a different character education topic with our students. The month of December is focused on Perseverance.
Research continues to show that “perseverance, the ability to stick with tough tasks, may even trump the innate ability in predicting how successful kids will be in life”. Studies show that kids who do not give up are more likely to be successful in many disciplines including Math and Science. Few parents want to raise kids who give up easily but what can they do?
We have nothing against participation trophies, but the concept does not exist on the karate mat or in adult life. In Martial Arts, as in life, everything is earned. Nothing is given for just showing up.
So how do you teach kids to push through obstacles when life becomes difficult?
- Praise the effort as much as the results:
- Too many kids gravitate towards things that are easy because they love the accolades when they do something. By praising the effort, kids learn that fully committing oneself to a task is as important as the outcome.
- In our karate studio (aka dojo), kids receive positive reinforcement for the effort and focus that they bring to class. We don’t just celebrate black belts, but all improvements in skills.
- Break it down:
- Helping kids understand how to break down larger goals into smaller projects gives them a critical skill for later in life.
- Seeing all of the belts that one must progress through can be daunting. Our major focus is on helping kids develop the skills for the next belt. There are no shortcuts and you can’t get your Black Belt before your Orange belt.
- Steadily increase the challenge:
- As kids gain mastery, consistently raising the bar is critical so that they learn that the process of personal improvement is never complete.
- The ultimate demonstration of skills occurs when a student successfully tests for the next highest belt level. It takes many months (and hundreds of hours) and it gets harder as they progress to higher belts.
- Be an example:
- Tell your kids stories about how you had to work for some things that did not come easy. Maybe it was math? French? Tango lessons? Help them understand that struggling is sometimes necessary, and important before mastery.
- Our instructors have demonstrated significant effort and practice in mastering the discipline. They are quick to share their stories with the students about their own personal struggles and how they pushed through them.
- Allow Them To Struggle:
- Watching your child attempt to tie their shoe while you are running late can test the patience of any parent. Having the restraint to let your kids struggle can be one of the best gifts that you can give them.
- Our instructors are supportive and patient with students while allowing them to develop the skill. It’s impossible to learn a punch or a kick for them and the students earn all new capabilities on their own.
If you are interested in how karate can complement your efforts to build perseverance in your child, please come visit us.