Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"...I didn't want to push him..."

Every day, parents enroll their kids in martial arts class for numerous reasons, and we've all heard them before: structure, discipline, self-defense, exercise, and so forth. And thus, there will very likely come a time when your child will say something like "I'm too tired to go to class today." This is a highly important and critical point in a child's development in both the martial arts and in life.

Progress in the martial arts takes discipline, concentration and determination, and also support from the family (it's a little difficult for a 10-year-old student to drive himself to class!). I have seen many students skip classes and quit altogether when the intensity of classes start to build up, as it is a natural part of the progression (much in the same way that things get more difficult when going from 1st to 2nd to 3rd grade in elementary school). Many parents are worried about not wanting to "push" their kids. They also want their kids to love them and simply don't want them to face the consequences of their actions. What if the kid was "tired" and wanted to drop out of school?

Not to say that my generation is any better than any other one, but in my day, we weren't allowed to quit ANYTHING, especially if it was our idea to begin in the first place. Two reasons behind this was:
(1) It taught us commitment and discipline. Simply put, if you say you're going to do something, then do it. My definition of discipline is committing to doing something even though it may be something you don't want to do, and seeing it to the end.
(2) We (we meaning kids) didn't call the shots. The parents did (and should do so now). When you allow the kid to quit simply because they don't want to go anymore, who's really in charge?

Children will understandably put up resistance to commitment, and it is up to us as parents to instill the importance of a "no-quit" attitude to prepare them for life down the road.

I heard somewhere that the world is full of great starters; teaching children the commitment and discipline to see things to the end will give the world more great finishers as well.

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