(I am gonna let you all know up front that you may not like this post and part of me hopes is does irritate some of you and light a fire under you to get your !@#$% (or your kids) in gear and get to work! So before you read on be warned)
It happens to all of us at one time or another at various points in our training.
From a few weeks to several months or years in training coming from a place of frustration, boredom or apathy…at one time or another we all feel like we want to quit.
I have seen it time and again and heard all of the excuses in the book…and yes, the are just that…EXCUSES!
“But Mr. Burt, you don’t know my situation!”
You’re right, I don’t know.
What I do know about is what it takes to succeed in our Kenpo Karate System to get to Black Belt…Commitment, Dedication, Perseverance. You don’t get these by quitting.
“We improve our inner self by improving our outer self”
We came to martial arts for a reason and whether you realize it or not that reason is to improve Self Confidence. We do things like football, soccer, gymnastics, etc because they are games and we like to compete against other people and win. But the martial arts are a very unique activity where the focus is on competition with our selves. There are not trophies or championships to win…there is just you and the motion. We improve our inner self by improving our outer self.
This is a process that takes time…years…and, really, it is a never ending work in progress.
So, what do we do?
(Remember that I warned you at the beginning)
I am going to break this up into two parts…one for parents and one for adult students.
The parents section will address what to do when kids want to quit and the adults portion
will talk about why students want to quit.
BOTH ARE RELEVANT!
Grown and Flown has a great blog post called Why I never let my kids quit…ANYTHING
Now, for my two cents…
Let’s break down the process here for a minute.
Your child took a trial class to see if they like it.
They said, “Yes”
Your child did a six week trial program to make sure they liked it.
They said, “Yes”
We made the commitment together to train for a year.
My expectation is that we (me the instructor and you the parents AND child) will BOTH do what we said we would do!
A few months in…”I don’t want to do it anymore.”
“Oh, no worries…Mr. Burt is a nice guy…he will understand.”
NO, I WON’T
I will NEVER understand why we say we want our kids to learn self discipline yet we let them quit when things get difficult.
I will NEVER understand why parents tell me they want their child to be committed and learn to finish what they start; yet try to back out when they actually have to be a a parent and make their kid do something the kid doesn’t want to do anymore.
I will NEVER understand why parents tell me they don’t want to make their kids do anything they don’t want to do when that is the parents job in the first place!
“But, Mr. Burt…but, but but…”
Let me stop you right there. One of my teachers used to say, “Everyone has a big but.”
“I would bring them to class, but…”
“I would help them practice at home but…”
“They like it when they are in class but…”
Do something for me, please, get rid of your big but! All it is is an EXCUSE!
(Are you irritated yer? Remember, I warned you)
Honestly, as a parent I CAN understand all of the “but’s”. I get it. I have gone through it with my own son. But I have also stood my ground on holding him to the commitments he makes and he is the better for it!
I have quit things in my own life. I have never been happy about that because I always looked back with regret wondering how my life might be different if I had stuck with it and achieved some level of competency.
“Get rid of your big “but”!
It is just and excuse!”
As a parent the struggle is real and this is an hotly contested issue on both sides of the debate. I like how Grown and Flown puts it…
“But we had bad days, really frustrating end-of-my-rope days. There were tantrums and miserable practices and screaming scenes
where I reminded them that this was something they had said they wanted to do.
The upside? They had long, enduring relationships with instructors, coaches and teammates who changed and enriched their lives…
It is the stuff that childhood memories are made of.”
If you want to know “why” I think parents should not let kids quit you should read this blog post.
Now, I am not going to sit here and pontificate without offering some suggestions.
So, what can we, as parents, do when we commit our kids to doing something and then they want to quit.
Accept the reality. Do not be surprised at all when this inevitably happens.
Acknowlege their feelings. It is OK that they feel this way. There is nothing wrong with having a feeling. It is what we do about that feeling that is important
Adapt your strategy. Make some changes in how you support them in their training.
Accept the reality. If you remember back when we enrolled I said that this was GOING to happen. It is actually an inevitable and even necessary part of the training process. There will come many times where life will ask and even expect things of us to see if we really want what we say we want. You know we really do want all of the things we say we want for out kids with martial arts training. Who doesn’t want their child to have more self confidence, be more self disciplined and have higher self esteem. The truth, however, is that we want karate to GIVE them to our kids. Well, I am here to tell you that karate doesn’t give us anything. We earn it! Our kids already have everything they need to succeed in life. Karate is a tool that can help them grow stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When they want to quit and we help them push through that challenge and stick with it we are helping then strengthen their self discipline. As their self discipline strengthens through practice then their self confidence improves. As their self confidence improves then their self esteem increases.
BUT…not if we let them quit.
Acknowledge their feelings. We have feelings all of the time. Some good, some bad…none are wrong. They are just feelings. What is important is the action we take on those feelings. The common ones that come to mind with respect to karate are frustration, dislike and boredom. Frustration invariably comes from a lack of practice. Dislike is usually a lie that stems from the third one…boredom. The moves were cool when we first learned them but the reality is that practice can be boring. But passion for the martial arts comes from many hours of practice. The value of this training is in the long term devotion to the development of these skills. There is no other way around it. We just have to do it…period.
Adapt your strategy. Change how you support your kid in training. Instead of dropping them off, stay and watch their class. Or, ask them what they learned in that days lesson and have them show it to you at home. Take an interest in what they are doing. When they see it is important to you it will become important to them. Tell them you love them and encourage them to to their best before their lesson then after class show an interest in what they accomplished. There is a six word phrase that works wonders for their self esteem. “I love to watch you practice.” Say this often and be specific about what it is you liked.
Jesse Enkamp the “Karate Nerd” has a good blog about this called How to be a good karate parent
Most all of what I stated in the parents piece can be applied for you adult students as well and I leave it to you to perform the proper intellectual gymnastics and make that leap. As well, I leave it to the parents to read this next part an apply to your kids.
Here I want to look at why you want to quit.
“I am frustrated with my progress.” Usually this implies a lack of progress and there are innumerable excuses to where we can lay blame. But, remember… they are just that…excuses. And honestly…I don’t want to hear them because, odds are, I already have. Maybe not from you, but I have been doing this a long time and human beings have yet to give me an original one. So, you are frustrated with your lack of progress. Well, let me ask you…
Are you CONSISTENTLY coming to class?
Are you CONSISTENTLY practicing at home?
If the answer to either of these questions is “Yes” then we need to look at what you are doing in class and at home and we can make some adjustments to help you out.
If the answer to either of these is “No”, well, then…now we know what we need to do don’t we?
“I have lost interest” No you haven’t. Here’s how I know. Anyone with a real interest in something doesn’t just lose it. Otherwise we wouldn’t have had an interest in the first place. Ultimately we are just bored.
“It’s boring” Of course it is! With all of the things grasping for our attention these days who wants to take the time to practice karate when we could be watching it on TV. Ultimately this one is a lie as well because anyone who consistently comes to class twice a week AND practices consistently at home AND gives their best effort in their training CANNOT BE BORED. It is impossible!
I dare you to prove me wrong!
You know what it ultimately comes down to? For both kids and adults?
YOU ARE LAZY!
“Ouch Mr. Burt…kinda harsh isn’t it?”
Maybe…don’t worry…I know how to be lazy too.
That is how I know you are.
Want to know how I know?
You came through the door so you are interested in karate.
You took a trial class and said you liked it.
You took a six week trial to make sure you liked it.
You enrolled in our regular program.
You made progress for awhile. But then something happened and you stopped coming to class consistently and you weren’t practicing at home regularly so your progress slowed down….yada yada yada.
I get it that stuff happens. It’s called life and it ain’t going away until we are dead.
So, deal with it.
We did not come to the martial arts to be lazy and achieve mediocre results.
We came here to improve and become our best self.
This cannot happen without commitment, dedication and perseverance.
AND THIS TAKES EFFORT!
It will not happen if we continue to be lazy!
The definition of success is being willing to pay the price for what you want.
So, are you willing to pay the price?
Well, are you?
Take care and see you in class…