Parents…this is so true.
I hear it time and again…
“I want my kids to learn self discipline”
“I want my kids to be committed.”
“I want my kids to gain self confidence”
Yet, when it gets tough or the kid “isn’t having fun” or “loses interest” then I hear…”I don’t want to make them do something they don’t want to do.”
Wait…what about the self discipline, commitment and self confidence?
You see, the things we are trying to teach with the martial arts are not quick fixes that happen in a few lessons or a few months of lessons. It takes a long term dedication to the development of skill to gain these kinds of things.
IT DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT FOLKS!
And…here is the ONLY thing I will guarantee with karate…for kids AND adults…
YOU ARE GONG TO LOSE INTEREST.
YOU WILL NOT LOVE IT ALL THE TIME.
The way we learn self discipline is not in training when it is convenient and we feel good about it. We learn self discipline by training when we don’t like it and it is inconvenient. We learn to persevere and overcome challenges when we are frustrated with our lack of progress and we feel like we are unable to get our techniques down. The easy times when we feel good about our training are supposed to be nourishing for when the hard times come…and they will…trust me.
But if we let our kids quit when they lose interest or the training gets tougher and we are tired of fighting them to get to class then what are we really teaching them. Here are my thoughts on this…
1. We are teaching them that they are in charge of the relationship. I get that we want our kids to enjoy the things they do and that it is frustrating to fight with them when they have decided they no longer want to do something. BUT…that is their job…to test the boundaries. And in doing this they are testing us, as parents, to see if they can manipulate us. Well, I don’t know about anyone else but in my relationship with my child…I AM IN CHARGE! I am my child’s parent…NOT my child’s friend.
2. We are teaching them it is OK to quit if they don’t like something. Commitment is a LEARNED skill. If we cannot teach our kids to stick with something like karate then what is going to happen when it comes to the bigger things in life like school, job and relationships? As a culture, with our instant gratification society, we are losing the value of commitment and we need to get back to a place where OUR WORD IS OUR BOND!
3. We are teaching them that what they want is more important than what they need. Kids want a lot of things but as parents we can imagine the nightmare that would occur if we gave in to every single thing our kids wanted. I have met kids like this…and some adults who were kids like this…it is not pretty. If I let my kid eat whatever he wanted then he would be the most overweight, malnourished child on the planet. Do I deny him things that he likes…of course not…but I balance it with what he NEEDS.
Karate training, by its nature, is challenging and sometimes downright difficult. But just like grades in school…each level builds on the previous and gets harder. Do we let our kids quit school when they are struggling and don’t want to go? Of course not. Then why do we allow it with other things?
“But, Mr. Burt…they HAVE to go to school.”
True…but we bring our kids to martial arts for a very specific reason…we want our kids to be disciplined and confident. Well, how in the world are they going to become disciplined and confident if we let them quit when they don’t want to do it anymore? They won’t. We allow our kids to become self absorbed and entitled without requiring of them the effort and dedication it takes to really succeed.
“But I am TIRED of fighting with my kid!”
“I don’t want to make them do it and have them end up hating it either?”
OK…I get that…it can be frustrating…BUT WE ARE THEIR PARENTS NOT THEIR FRIENDS! It is our JOB to fight…and WIN! And…they may very well get to a point where they hate it…BUT that is where the rubber meets the road and REAL PROGRESS takes place IF…and ONLY IF…we stay the course and WORK THROUGH the challenge.
“A bit harsh isn’t it sir?”
Maybe…what I know is this…my son wanted to quit karate and, honestly, I fought with him and reached a point of getting tired and frustrated. BUT I STOOD MY GROUND and would not let him quit. A few more years went by and I asked him shortly before he was getting ready to test for his Black Belt why he stuck with it even when he wanted to quit. He said, “Because you believed in me, Dad”.
My heart rose as I realized I had helped him learn a very valuable lesson which would have been missed had I given in and let him quit.
Now, this is just my opinion and you may feel free to disagree with me…that is fine. We are all entitled to our own opinions. But there is one more thing that I know. In the 15+ years I have been a martial arts instructor I have NEVER had someone come to me and tell me they are glad they quit. However, I have heard it many times at our Black Belt tests where students have tearfully thanked their instructors for believing in them and not letting them give up. As well, there have been many other times in crossing paths with former students who did quit and can you guess what they said?
“I wish I would have stuck with it.”
Take care and see you in class…