On the weekend of 2nd December we held our biggest grading of the year in Basingstoke. We had students from Karate, Ju Jitsu and Judo all grading. Of which Seven of them were being examined for their Black Belt.
The weekend started with the younger children from the Young Legends, aged between 6- 9 going for their first belt. Their grading consisted of a 60 minute class to give a brief reminder of the things they had to demonstrate. They progressed onto the formal grading itself which consisted demonstrating blocks, kicks, strikes, throws and groundwork along with their forms and partnerwork.
As parents we have an ability and even a responsibility to help our children to become confident. Confidence will lead them on the path to success.
Confidence is the belief in one’s ability to master your body, behaviour and the challenges you encounter in school, work and life generally. If our children believe in themselves, they will are willing to take more of the right kind of risks in life, accomplish their goals and accomplish more. Children who have good self esteem will find it easier to feel valued and accepted by family, friends and peers, they will be proud of a job well done and will feel good and thing good things about themselves and they will be more prepared for the challenges that they will face everyday.
None of us are born confident, it’s something we learn as we grow up and develop, regardless of a child’s situation or feelings. As parents we can help to improve our children’s self-confidence by giving them many opportunities to practice and master their skills. Let them make mistakes and be there to boost their spirits so they keep trying, even if they sometimes fail.
Have you heard the old Japanese saying, fall down 7 times get up 8.
These are some ideas as to what we can do to increase our children’s sense of self-worth
Create a wall of fame
Every child is good at something. Help them to discover it, encourage it and celebrate it by displaying it proudly for all to see. If your home is missing a wall of fame to celebrate their achievement your child is missing their moment of recognition. If you have a child who is not into team sports or athletic, try scouting/guiding. Everyone wins and everyone gets lots of badges. As children walk by their showcase, they can see at a glance five to ten years of achievement. This gives them a lift, especially during times when their self-confidence is faltering.
Nurture their special interests
Try to expose your child to a wide variety of activities, and encourage them through the ups and downs when they find something they really love to do. Kids who have a passion — whether it’s Martial Arts, Theatre or Minecraft, justifiably feel proud of their expertise and skills and are more likely to be succeed in other things at both school and in life in general. Unusual hobbies may be particularly helpful for children who have a hard time mixing with other children at school. Try and use this hobby to help your child to interact with other children and develop friendships. For example, if your child likes to draw but most of the children in their class are into sports, encourage them to do drawing of the sports that their peers enjoy.
Focus on the Glass being Half Full
Help your child to be more optimistic and to look for positives and to continue to work hard towards their goals. Try to avoid offering glib reassurances to “look on the bright side,” or something like “don’t worry you didn’t really want to do that.” Instead encourage them to think about specific ways to improve a situation and bring them closer to their goals. For example if they are behind their classes in reading at school, offer to spend extra time with them reading their school books together. If they weren’t invited to grade this time, ask what they need to practice to be invited to grade next time and then spend some time working on it together to increase their chances of getting the result they desire next time.
Don’t forget also that the glass can be refilled, time and time again.
Watch something motivational to put things into perspective. Nick Vujicic and his positivity is a great example of what we should all aim for.
Don’t over praise your child
Everyone of us likes to be praised, but reserve it for real accomplishments, not just used as a figure of speech. If you tell your child that everything they do is “great” or “awesome” or “fantastic” then when things do get a little (or even a lot) tougher, they can be discouraged at having to face adversity.
What’s the secret to success? Hard work and lots of times things not going right and then the occasional success. The cycle repeats until the successes outweigh the failures. Then we move onto face the next challenge. Give old fashioned good honest praise when it is deserved and justified that way your child will feel good, they’ll learn to understand that hard work, spirit, effort, failures and achievement are all part of a natural cycle but one that they can conquer and receive just rewards.
Don’t give in to Fear
Sometimes we all get nervous or scared about doing something. It might be learning to drive, asking a potential partner out for a date, moving up a class in Martial Arts or starting a new job. Sometimes fear is a good thing and can help us to stay safe at other times fear can be a real limiter to our levels of success.
Fear shouldn’t be ignored, sometimes its a real valid and sensible response. Are you afraid of swimming in a rip tide at the beach, riding on a motorcycle with no protective wear, swimming in a pool with crocodiles in it, going to war, skydiving et al. There are many things to be justifiably afraid of, they are risky and often dangerous to life and limb. Fear in this case is a matter of self preservation. In some of these examples, although fear is felt, the action must still be taken, for example a solider on the battlefield generally has little choice as to whether to engage with the enemy, they have to to ‘just get on with it.’
Some kinds of fear we have to learn to recognise as not being fear of a physical outcome, but something far worse, a fear of failure or even embarrassment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up quite nicely ” What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
Take the following examples:- The child that doesn’t want to try that new activity at school or has passed a new Martial Arts belt and now has to work with a more advanced group of pupils or where they previously loved an activity and now now longer want to do it. This is what, as parents we play the part of Sherlock Holmes and start investigating a little deeper. Ask them what they do in their activity, ask them what they enjoy and what they don’t enjoy. Compare notes with the coach or teacher and see if you can identify the real underlying issue. Is their enough fun in the activity, are they still still motivated, are others progressing faster than them. Are social pressures intervening, are friends asking them to do other things? Are the games consoles calling? Is the activity getting harder to do because your child has progressed and now they are being asked to further improve their skills.
Sometimes all it takes is a little constructive support from a child’s parents to help them overcome their nerves and worries and to move forward with more confidence and to set themselves up for later life.
Two days before Christmas I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at a friend’s house. Laid out on the table was a jigsaw. The edges were complete but nothing else, hundreds of pieces scattered around waiting to be found and placed in an orderly fashion. As we sat I started looking for pieces to add to the puzzle and quickly became engrossed, all the while chatting, drinking and making merry. It is years since I sat with a jigsaw, but it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
It got me thinking. Life sometimes feels like a large jigsaw made up from lots of little images, each one representing a different aspect of my life. An image of each of my children and my husband, all looking healthy and happy. An image of my home, warm, clean, tidy, happy and homely. An image of work, busy, successful, productive. An image of my family and friends, keeping in touch, spending time together. An image of myself, living up to the values I hold dear, looking after all those important aspects of my life whilst still managing to look after myself, being the best I can be.
I have an image in my head of the stunning picture it would make when all the puzzle pieces are put together, an intricate web showing life which is serene and organised, everything running smoothly together, happy faces and beautiful places.
However, my jigsaw is far from complete. I stand in the middle of lots of pieces of the puzzle, they are chaotic. A jumbled up intermingled mess which often leaves me feeling like I don’t know where to start.
Sometimes I feel like I am making progress and parts are coming together, the kids are doing well, work is productive, success at a competition. But when I focus too much on one area of the jigsaw, other parts are being neglected. How can I possibly pull this together? It doesn’t take much to make it fall apart again either, the car breaking down, a phone call with bad news, a bill when you have no money and the parts pull apart and I am left standing in the middle of the mess, feeling defeated.
However, here’s what I learnt about completing a jigsaw. Puzzles are fun and they are made for the doing, not solely for completion but for playing with. When a jigsaw is complete all you can do is sit back and look at it, the interaction stops. Sure, you admire the picture, you appreciate the effort you put into the finished product, but then you think ‘what now?’ In time the picture fades and gathers dust, the perfect image becomes uninteresting so the pieces come apart and get put away whilst you fondly remember the fun you had putting it all together. Yes, sometimes it’s frustrating when you can’t seem to finish or find the right piece. Sometimes it’s tiring, monotonous even and feels like you’re getting nowhere. But then there’s the buzz of excitement when you make progress, a sense of achievement in working toward the completed masterpiece and it’s even better when you rope in friends to help you along the way. Sometimes you have to focus more on one area and that’s ok, you’ll be back to the other parts soon enough.
So here’s what I’ll be doing in 2016. I will be viewing life a little differently, not pushing for perfection and completion but learning to enjoy the confusing, messy conundrum that it can sometimes be. Enjoying the moments where it’s all coming together and with the help of those around me working through the times where things fall apart or seem unmanageable. Life is for the doing, not the completion. It’ll come to an end soon enough, there’s no rush to finish. A perfect life soon becomes dull, losing its lustre and gathering dust. Nothing but an image of perfect happiness.
True happiness is found when you revel in the mess, learn to enjoy the chaos and give yourself a pat on the back for those short lived moments where it all comes together.
We are all afraid of something at times. Anyone who tells you that they’ve never been afraid is lying.
For some people it’s Spiders (Arachnephobia or Arachnophobia) or Clowns (Coulrophobia) or Heights (Hypsiphobia) or Flying (Pteromerhanophobia) or Darkness (Lygophobia) There is even Fear of being laughed at (Gelotophobia) and Fear of Knees (Genuphobia.) Some people have even invented fear of new things like Bridges (Bridgophobia ;->)
What’s this go to do with Martial Arts? As successful Martial Artists we constantly place ourselves into positions where we are afraid or at the very least out of our comfort zone. If we stay within our self imposed boundaries, we simply won’t improve, in fact we’ll stagnate and often our skills will degrade.
This ‘fear’ can be from many things
Moving up a class in your club
Taking a grading
Training against someone much higher (in belt terms)
Taking part in a competition
Losing at a competition
Learning a new form or Kata.
Fear of being mugged/beaten up
Within our syllabus we progressively encourage people to push those boundaries to develop their skills, knowledge and themselves. It’s not easy to do, it can be challenging mentally and physically but the sense of achievement when that barrier is overcome is palpable. When someone is ready to take their Black belt, we give them a specific challenge that is pertinent to them and relevant to them improving their skills, they are definitely not easy to complete, but those that have risen to the challenge have come out of the other end as much more accomplished Martial Artists .
Einstein puts it quite well ” Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” So do something differently.
Identify what you want to achieve
Understand why you want to do that thing
Plan how your are going to achieve it
Work through your plan and any set backs
Measure your success
Adapt your plan
Be accountable to yourself
A good Martial Arts coach, will all been there and worn the T Shirt and is in fact still doing it, so you are not alone on the journey. A good Martial Artist will keep pushing their own boundaries to improve and enrich themselves.