You may have heard “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sounds good, but how many people you know have that level of confidence that aren’t also arrogant and hard to be around for very long! Much less children..

Mostly it isn’t true, especially when dealing with people you care about, such as mentors, teachers, parents, or friends. Words flung around in conflict, or even from a place of frustration in the moment, can have a real mental impact, and they can hurt. Especially to young kids of Tiger age.

Your objective is to help your children, not accentuate their flaws and make them worse. Otherwise you will both be frustrated because they won’t be able to help but recreate the behavior the same as it was before.

I’ve had students before, who were smart and talented. Great at the sport, but ran into something in the curriculum or techniques that just messed them up and they didn’t practice them much. It generally showed in their tests, when everything would look great but one or two things would be… not so great..

It is really frustrating to see a child who has a ton of potential or talent mess up easy things. Things that have to do with what they are great at already! Things that will make those things even better. I’ve had children in this position that then would brush it off and not fix something after corrected.

When I would ask the student why they didn’t practice the things they had a hard time with, such as forms, as much as they practiced the things they could do awesomely, and I would get the answer that they just weren’t good at forms, or didn’t like them.

Often times these are the same students who will blow your mind in other ways. You  know that with a little time and effort in what they struggle at they would be amazing at it!

It is easy to fall into a rut of telling kids to practice, telling them they need to put in more effort, try harder, but are you really telling them how? Or making it a fun learning experience?

I mean there is a big difference between practice and training too. I don’t think someone should ever practice anything. That makes it sound like your just doing the same thing over and over again without changing or making it better really. When you train something, you change one little thing about it at a time to get better and better.

If you tell them “You can be an amazing student, you are always doing amazing kicks and your sparring is really good, but you don’t seem to listen or put any effort on forms at all.”

This doesn’t tell them how to improve, it just tells them that they are not good at something, which they already feel like they know, it is your job to convince them otherwise.

Instead, focus time on them when they are practicing the things they aren’t good at, like maybe forms, by saying something like “your going to be a great martial artists! I love seeing students practice something they don’t feel good at, because that is how they get great!” Convince them to practice these things by making it part of a game to play with them.

I know I’m speaking as a martial artist here, as a parent this still applies though, with concepts like courtesy, respect, integrity, and patience when they seem to be short of those!

That is far more likely to make them feel better about the things they don’t like to train or practice. Often its a matter of feeling like they would lose respect practicing something they aren’t as good as others at because it would sacrifice their image.

Then if you can add in one and only ONE specific thing that they could change right now that would make it a little bit better, you’ve hit it out of the park.

If you can make them feel comfortable in that image even with accepting its flaws, now we are building confidence.

Now sure, this is all written from my perspective as a martial arts instructor. Because this was something I wrote to help with our instructor training program. As a parent, it rings true the same at home though. Comment some examples you could think of in how this could be applied at home!