It is a fine line we tread as parents between being motivational or pushy with our kids. How can we be supportive and help them when they hit an obstacle or are lacking that drive to succeed?
1 Take an interest
This is a great first step and it seems so obvious. Ask your child how their class was straight after it has finished. Was it fun, hard what were the highlights and so on. Try to avoid questions that will generate a one-word answer. Get them talking and engaging with you for ages after the class has ended. If you can watch their class and talk about the movements. Even play dumb, if need be, and get them to explain it to you. Be the student and get them to be the Sensei. Talk about how great they looked during the partner work in class or how that kick they have been working on looked fantastic. You must let them know you noticed their hard work and you can see them getting better and better.
2 Schedule practice time
If your child is struggling to practice at home it is time to make it more engaging. Get them to show you something they learned in class, or get them to teach you. This is a fun way to learn from a different angle. For the kids that love media film them on your phone and look back at their practice with hem. Use this to pinpoint things they could focus on when the practice. “See your knee, lift it a bit higher. Doesn’t Sensei say that makes you kick easier?” You know your child better than anyone so use their interests to create fun at home practice experiences anytime.
3 Table talk
The dinner table provides you with a great space to ask about life skill values that have been talked about in class and what they mean. Use this time to reinforce the principles. Bring up keywords, ask for examples. Show your child how these values have a place not only at the dojo but in all aspects of their lives.
Kids are curious little beings. They like to look and experience many different things. Which sometimes makes it difficult for them to stick at one thing. It is important though to instil the value of commitment. If your child reaches a point in their martial arts journey where they have to miss some classes, or even quit altogether, this is a great time to have a chat about why. Use this time to share with them the value of commitment. Do they want to skip class because they don’t enjoy it as much as something else? Or is it something else that can be easily remedied?
5 Don’t compare
Everyone learns at different speeds. Everyone has different physical and sometimes mental limitations. It is important that if your child discusses their efforts in comparison to others that you stress these facts. Redirect the conversation to the positivity around themselves and how they did. Frustrations and disappointments may occur, this is normal. This is part of life. Talk to your child about the root of their frustration and calmly help them to create a positive relationship with their feelings.
6 You are not alone
Sometimes the martial arts world can seem daunting. Especially if you have never done anything like that yourself. But don’t forget you are not alone. Speak with other parents. Form training groups to instil fun practice. Set up playdates with outside of class. Take full advantage of the support system in place at the club. Query the instructors on anything to do with training, motivation etc
7 One size does not fit all
Please do not forget this. What works for one child will not necessarily work for another. The instructors at your school know this oh too well. You have to find the balance between being supportive but pushy. Given the option, the couch is usually the preference. So step up and make them do something and then use this to build them up.
I have never heard anyone complain about being pushed and getting their black belt. Never once. However many students have needed motivation and a push now and then to get there. Work together with your child when challenges arise. Tread the line carefully and watch them flourish.