Being the Martial Arts Parent

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There are critical moments in the stages of martial arts training that most children will go through, including initial enthusiasm, followed by a decline of interest, which can ultimately lead to their premature quitting. Don’t worry, this is quite normal, but what can you do to help your child progress in Martial Arts, so they realize their full potential?

Take an Interest in what your child is doing. Try to familiarize yourself with the type of training your child is doing, try to understand what your child is learning, and watch out for their strengths, so you can give them positive feedback later. This interest lets you share experiences and it will kindle a mutual bond, that expands into other areas of your life together.

Trust that the instructor knows best when it comes to up-skilling your child If you know you’ve found the right martial arts club for your child, then trust that their instructor is very likely knowledgeable and experienced in many aspects of Martial Arts, and that they will expertly monitor your child’s progress from the start of their Martial Arts journey and throughout their path toward reaching mastery.
Your child’s instructor is qualified in this field, and often they are the ones who can see any issues or difficulties, that may arise in your child’s training before they occur. Trusting the instructor means, that if they offer you or your child any advice regarding their training or in competition, then you can be confident that it’s in your child’s best interest.

Keep your child’s instructor informed – Communicate Before training starts, it is very important that parents communicate, directly to the instructor, any issues affecting the child. This includes informing the instructor of any medical, physical, emotional, mental or other difficulties that the child may be dealing with, which may impact their ability to attend training or which may impede their training. If an instructor is aware of any specific requirements, then they can structure their training to suit these needs. Any daily issues that affect a child, e.g. stress from exams, losing a pet, hard day at school etc., should also be discussed with the instructor when parents drop their child off, and before training commences. The instructor can then be more mindful of any struggles that may affect the training session.
Don’t be THAT Parent Don’t be that parent who shouts from the sidelines, undermines instructors, abuses referees during competition, or puts down their child when they make a mistake. Generally Martial Arts centres don’t tolerate that kind of behavior, instead they try to instill respect in their students, however this type of “hot headed” situation can arise occasionally. Remember, that making derogatory comments at your child, their opponent or anyone else involved is something that won’t bring anything positive for anyone, and it won’t be tolerated.

The results of Training Martial Arts are best seen in the Long Term.
Martial Arts For Children
Encourage your child to “stay on”, when they lose interest in the initial stages after joining Martial Arts. In the initial stages, a child tends to only enjoy something, which they find to be fun, easy, or exciting because they’re learning something new. Initially, a child will view their training as a game, therefore when the game becomes repetitive, a child may become bored with it. This is because a child does not have the life experiences to envision the different points in their journey toward perfecting their skill, so therefore they can become disheartened if their training calls for repetitive practice as they develop precision, or it simply becomes more challenging for them as they progress, and therefore they want to quit. It is during these pivotal points in their training that a parent must be encouraging and supportive, to assist their child in transitioning from being a “game playing” young child to becoming a self-disciplined young athlete who can take the responsibility of training harder and therefore overcoming their challenges. By adhering to some of the earlier points mentioned, i.e. taking an interest, communicating, discussing issues with the instructor, and becoming involved in your child’s training progress, parents will be more equipped to deal with their child’s sudden lack of interest and sudden desire to quit training prematurely.
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If a child suddenly goes from loving training to not wanting to train or losing interest and enthusiasm, then the best a parent can do is to talk to them and the instructor, in order to try and find where the true problem lies. There could be a series of reasons for this sudden loss of interest, such as:
  • The first time they find something difficult.
  • Fear of failing.
  • The first time they have a bad sparring experience or it didn’t go to plan
  • Feeling that “being good” at Martial Arts means spending a lot of time training.
  • Losing a competition.
  • Wanting to spend time at home playing with friends or on a computer.
  • Finding it difficult in getting along with some other children.
  • Progressing to a more difficult level of training.
  • Simply losing motivation.
In these situations, the stronger the foundation between child and parent, and the more trust a parent, child and instructor have built from the initial start of the Martial Arts training, the better the results will be in communicating and resolving any issues. At the end of the day, you don’t want to rob your child of the best potential they can reach through Martial Arts, by having them quit before they achieve their best results.

When all is said and done however, as a parent, you know your child best, and if after trying all of this, a child still wants to quit, then let them quit with the condition that they give it one more chance (negotiate a time, e.g. after a month) of regular training, in order to compensate for the time and energy already invested by the child, parent and the instructors at the school. If after that time, the child still wants to quit, then they should be allowed, as they have given time to see if their feelings have changed. As a parent, if you have supported your child in facing their challenges and in thinking for themselves, then you should be proud, whatever their final decision may be.

“It’s not what you do for your children, but what you teach them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings”.