Sunday, October 28, 2007

Showing off - key to parenting a new karate student

I loved this post by Black Belt Mama for a number of reasons, but one salient one: it illustrates something I've preached for years. And I love it whenever anyone validates how brilliant a martial arts instructor I am. Oh yeah, the thing that was validated was that, as a "karate parent," you need to have your kid show off.

I once had over 700 students in three schools, and I was always asked by the parents of new students, "Mr. Nathan, you are so amazing at teaching and all. How often should we have our son practice every week at home?" Keep in mind that the first part was not usually a part of the question, but I've inserted it to add to my credibility (hah!). I would answer with the following:

  1. You shouldn't make your child practice. [At this point, I would have to assist said parent with raising his/her jaw back to a normal position] We shouldn't approach this as if it's football or soccer practice where some parents are more interested in their son/daughter playing/starting/winning than the kid is. Catch this: this is something that your child loves now. If you make him practice, it's not his anymore, it's yours! If you force him to practice, he will resent it.
  2. Instead, ask your child to show off! Instead of saying, "Junior, get over there on the wall like that incredible Mr. Nathan said, and do 500 round kicks off the wall!", say, "Hey Junior, show Mom that cool roundhouse you were doing in class last night. Wow!" In other words, have him or her show their stuff and make sure they know you're proud of it. Make sense?
  3. At some point, your child will have goals that you can help him meet: a belt test, a tournament, a demonstration team tryout. That's the point where you need to ask the advice of your child's instructor, then develop a training plan that the child explicitly agrees to, then follow up. In other words, make sure the training plan is coming from Mr. Instructor, not Mr. Mom, and it has credibility in the eyes of your child, then you can hold him accountable.
  4. Another idea, is to tell him that he's not allowed to practice during the week, if he's a very contrary child, and you can be assured that he will!

Never underestimate what can happen when you show you love your child by making sure he knows you're proud of him. Love never fails.


Black Belt Mama said...

Nice post-and happy to have been an inspiration for it. ;-)

Nathan Teodoro said...

I started to type a witty riposte, but then realized I'm not that witty. On a serious note, I think you're going to make a very good intstructor some day soon. I think many of use are eagerly and proudly anticipating your Sho Dan promotion.

Chris @ Martial Development said...

How does this differ from ths advice you give adults for themselves?

Nathan Teodoro said...

Ah. Adults are, or should be able to determine when and how to practice, if given guidance. Kids have a number of physical assets that, I believe, make my advice practical: they don't need to warm up (in general), in other words they can go from 0 to 60 in no time and not get hurt, they are spontaneous, and generally less inhibited. Adults need to be told, no taught, when and how to practice. It's a great question, and deserves its own post.