Some Answers and Resources from a Fellow Parent:
I started teaching martial arts to children over 25 years ago. The parallels between the evolution of martial arts teaching styles and parenting styles are interesting. I see martial arts instructors teaching the same way today as 25 years ago. I see some parents raising their kids in a similar way that they were brought up.
In some cases for better or and in some cases for worse.
Conversely, I see many martial arts instructors who have changed and adapted their way of teaching. Likewise, many parents are making a conscious effort to parent in a different way.
Again, in some cases for better and in some cases for worse.
And, with changing environment due to COVID-19 we must again adapt how we teach martial arts and we must adapt how we parent.
After years of witnessing and observing parents in our martial arts school, I've often thought to myself: "I'll never do that as a parent" or "I hope I'll be like them as a parent."
Now that I have started a family, and my kids are in martial arts training, I know it's a lot harder than knowing this is "good parenting" and this is "bad parenting." Parenting is hard and we're not always faced with binary or black and white choices.
Over the years, I've noticed some trends, let's call them mistakes, that keep persisting. Here's what we've observed after working with kids and their parents for almost three decades. And, I've consulted with parenting experts to put together this report.
We think you'll find this helpful on being an even better parent...
Mistake #1 - Parents give their kids too many choices
Don't get me wrong, I think it's important for children to have choices and learn to make decisions. And, of course, learn to face the consequences of those decisions. However, just like adults, when kids are faced with too many choices it causing confusion and they become overwhelmed. With kids home all the time it's tempting to come up with a variety of options for our kids, hoping they'll just pick something to do. However, the answer in a confused mind is always no. Then this causes frustration for both parent and child. Give your child two or three choices at the most and let them decide.
Mistake #2 - Being too hard on them for making mistakes
I'm a big advocate of standards and high ones at that. However, there is a difference between a pursuit of excellence and a pursuit of perfection. Excellence is possible, perfection is not. If you teach them about excellence they will value what it takes to perform. If you drive too hard for perfection you will set them up for failure and the will be afraid to make mistakes. If they are afraid of mistakes, they may be afraid to try and it can even stifle their creativity. They need your support for trying new things and the right encouragement and course corrections when they fail. Remember, our lives have been turned upside down and so have our children's. Their routines have been destroyed and they've been rapidly extricated from most of their social contact. On top of that, they don't yet have the life experience to cope with this current tumult. They need our understanding and support.
Mistake #3 - Too much screen time
This is not really a newer phenomenon but is exacerbated by mobile devices. Too much TV and video gameplay have been a problem since the 80s. Now, with the availability of smartphones and tablets, it's very easy to pass the phone to your child (or maybe they already have their own) when they need something to do, or you just need a break. However, this mistake goes deeper than just the reliance on a screen for entertainment, it goes to an over-reliance on technology in general. It really affects how they absorb and process information for future use. See the article linked below from Scientific American. Students are better off taking notes by hand, but this is not an automatic habit, it is a learned skill. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/
*This is now a great challenge for parents. Social and physical-distancing protocols have forced schools and martial arts programs alike to move to digital platforms. Do your best to limit screen time, it's more important than ever. Remember, not all screen time is created equal. Some will be educational and productive, some will not. Does the screen time keep them engaged with education and physical activity? Or, does it just keep them busy and pre-occupied?
Mistake #4 - Bubbling or sheltering
It's human nature, we want our kids to be happy and safe. And, it hurts us to see them hurt, let down, or disappointed. However, failure and negative consequences are a part of life. Instead of shielding them from the small ones, we should let them face them. Of course, we will be there as a safety net if needed. Resilience is an important quality for kids and adults. It's "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties". How will they learn to recover from said difficulties if they never have them?
Please note, this is not a commentary on self-isolation vs. the pursuit of herd immunity. Rather, make sure you aren't hiding your children from the reality of how the world is changing. Teach them to manage their expectations and how adapt to some of the inevitable disappointments.
Mistake #5 - No Boredom
When kids get bored, it's our tendency to try to find them something to do. However, boredom is really a child's first exposure to time management. In the workplace, we know that multitasking is the enemy of productivity. In fact, there is no such thing as multitasking, it is really just "task switching" at best and more likely being easily distracted before something is completed. Children, need to learn to experience and then manage boredom. It will help them focus and complete the task at hand. Additionally, boredom may let the mind wander and thus foster a child's creativity. This is going to tie back to limiting screen time. Hold your ground on this. It may be a little painful in the short run. But, in the long run, you and your children will benefit.
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In addition to teaching the kids martial arts, keeping them physically active, and building their confidence, the online platform helps keep them mentally and socially engaged.
Until now, access to this program has been limited. But because of COVID-19, we've opened this program up to the rest of the community.
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