Bruce Lee vs. Sammy the Squirrel
If you have ever watched a martial arts class, you have undoubtedly noticed the little guy rocking it out and looking like little Rocky, little Bruce Lee, and all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rolled into one.
Don’t remember that kid?
Maybe that is because the more memorable student was the one who couldn’t stand up without dancing in circles, falling down every ten seconds, picking his nose, and crying when the instructor dared to correct his actions.
All this can be very memorable. I understand how you may feel as though your student could be getting more out of class, without this other kid “stealing” all the attention from the instructor. I also understand how you might feel, if this kid is yours.
Side note: ???? I once had a parent flat out obliterate me for calling her children kids. If it offends you when I call children, “kids”, rest assured I love baby goats and I do not mean to insult your children. As I did with this parent, if it offends you to have your children called kids, I will adjust to better serve you…. But I digress….????
In teaching, (and life), I truly believe that patience is not an option, it is required. Each time an instructor steps on the mat, patience is required in varying degrees.
The approach chosen to instruct each class is also variable. The instructor assesses each individual and the entire class. Based on that assessment, the steps toward success are chosen.
In one class, there is a clear effort to correct those students who struggle with self-control and respect.
In another class, those same students are corrected but not given focus. In a third class, the busy students are seemingly ignored.
The instructor chooses a path, based on their experience and training, best suited for the entire group. The amount of attention an individual or group requires is based on the needs the instructor has identified. Never assume that because the instructor is not constantly all over a struggling student, there is no plan.
Even the struggling student is learning, just in a different way or at a different speed. With time and patience, the struggling student begins to see success.
Surprisingly, a struggling student can become an astute leader to future students because of their shared path. I tell my students, “I always get what I am asking for, it is just a matter of how long it takes you to give it to me.”
Typically, this message is really for the parent, but masked as a student directive. The student hears me and understands my expectations, but the parent needs to hear this information.
My intention is to calm the parent, who may be frustrated and want to correct their student during class.
My message to the parent: forego this battle and to allow me the time to work the issue out. When given the time, martial arts instructors are absolutely amazing at getting respect, self-control, and a “want-to” attitude, out of all their students.
Remember that every person, not just the kids, are on their own journey.
Few ever reach that elusive black belt, but most will never forget the portion of the journey they completed. No matter how long you train, it is my hope you will leave with a great memory, obvious growth, or maybe a sense of self-improvement.
Whether the journey includes better focus, effort, coordination, or any of the many great reasons for being here, the path is yours! Don’t get distracted from that simple fact.
Whether the struggling student is yours or they belong to someone else, keep patience and a warm heart available for them. Their journey will amaze you and them as well. If the struggling student is yours, it’s okay. They’re here to improve.
Let those battles and frustrations go while they are on the mat training. This is a great place for them to safely learn boundaries and expectations.
A few things to remember:
???? The instructor has a plan, not just for your kid, but for the rest, too. Trust the plan and approach the instructor after class if you feel something important was missed.
???? If your child continues doing the thing that drives you crazy remember, your child is not the enemy. You simply have conflicting priorities at the moment.
???? Your child is doing the best they can. They are working at their current level of brain development.
???? Children who feel connected (have some control, appreciated, belonging, etc.) are generally more cooperative.
???? Assess the daily interactions between you and your child. Do you give more support or criticism?
???? Anger, whether ours or theirs, blocks the thinking brain and only allows access to the reactionary brain.
???? Define and state the problem as you see it. Ask them to help find a solution.
???? Work together to solve a problem. This gives children ownership and control. It is more work at first, but it will shorten the amount of time spent overall and may reduce further behavioral issues.
???? Before and after every martial arts class, tell them you love to watch them train. Keep it simple. “I love to watch you train.” Don’t explain it…just say it. They hear it and it matters.