Self-esteem develops over time.
And if it's low, it can be raised. Here are things parents can do:
Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. Martial Arts is one of the best sports you can enroll your child because they will be learning all the time while having fun. Learning basics, the proper way to exercise, traditional martial arts kata and self defense are all skills that increase competence. Competence increased confidence and self esteem.
When coaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. Then let them do what they can, even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child has lots of opportunities to learn, try, and feel proud. Don't make new challenges too easy — or too hard. Holding pads too high for them to reach may seem funny but can also lead them to believe that they are not talented.
Praise your child, but do it wisely. Of course, it's good to praise kids. Your praise is a way to show that you are proud, too. But research shows that some ways of praising kids can actually backfire. At our martial arts school we use a technique called a praise sandwich. We praise effort, make a correction and the praise improvement after the child practices more.
Here's how to do it right:
Avoid over-praising. Praise that doesn't feel earned doesn't ring true. For example, telling a child he kicked almost straight up when he knows he didn't feels hollow and fake. It's better to say, "I know that was a tough class, but we all have off days. I'm proud of you for not giving up." Add a vote of confidence, "Tomorrow, you'll be back on your game."
Praise effort rather than fixed qualities. Avoid focusing praise on results such as doing the best in class or fixed qualities (such as being smart or athletic). This kind of praise can lead kids to avoid challenges that may threaten the good 'reputation' they get praised for most.
Instead, offer most of your praise for effort, progress, and attitude. For example: "You're working hard on that split," or, "You're getting better and better at these combinations," or, "I'm proud of you for practicing and going to classes — you've really stuck with it. This kind of praise encourages kids to put effort into things, work toward goals, and try. When kids do that, they are more likely to succeed.
Be a good role model. When you put effort into everyday tasks (like raking the leaves, making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you're setting a good example. Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning up toys, or doing great stances.
Modeling the right attitude counts, too. If you train in martial arts along with your child, get excited about the classes (or at least without grumbling or complaining), you teach your child to do the same.
Ban harsh criticism. The messages kids hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Harsh words ("You're so lazy!") are harmful, not motivating. When kids absorb negative messages about themselves, they feel bad about themselves, and act accordingly.
Focus on strengths. Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has opportunities to develop these strengths. Nurturing strengths is better than focusing on weaknesses if you want to help kids feel good about themselves and succeed. All students progress at different rates at different point in their martial arts journey. It’s not a belt race it’s all about becoming a black belt over time not “getting” a black belt
By Mark Silva, GetStudents.com
I started taking martial arts lessons with my dad in our living room when I was about 7 years old. We had just moved to Florida and I was starting at a new school midway through the year. I was probably the shortest kid in my class. Scrawny little arms, big wobbly head. I knew I was going to have to let time take care of most of those things, but I wanted to be good at karate ASAP. I had to get in shape. I needed to do some push-ups at the very least.
I met all my friends when my dad finally opened his first karate school in our new town. I had a slight advantage over the other kids because I was pretty close to the instructor. But then older, taller, and more athletic students started joining me in class. I knew I had to step my game up to be able to compete. I was inspired by watching them kick higher than me. I was inspired by hearing them yell louder than me. I knew I had to try harder. At the very least, I could do some push-ups.
After a few years of training and competing in tournaments it was time to reach my ultimate goal: BLACK BELT. At that point I was really good at doing my forms. I had all of the techniques memorized. I was growing and I was in pretty good shape. There was one thing hanging over my head...I knew I had to do 100 push-ups to complete my belt test.
I practiced every day. I pushed myself harder than ever in class. I did push-ups in my bedroom before school every morning. Fitness isn’t always fun, but it feels great and it makes you a better, healthier person. I wanted to be able to knock out those push-ups faster than anyone else. I reached my goal. I am a BLACK BELT.
I’m a grown man now, but I still have a lot of the same goals. This year I plan on eating healthier things I cook at home. I plan on running more, going on more walks, swimming in the ocean, staying active! Let’s set these goals together. If we keep an eye on each other we can make them all a reality this year. Good things come to those who sweat!
Focus is a skill we all begin to learn on day one of our martial arts classes. We quickly understand that having good focus will be super important to learning our forms, improving our techniques, and moving through belt ranks. Focus is the ability to concentrate without being distracted.
Parents: When watching classes you will see the kids standing at attention, sitting with their hands still or kneeling with their hand on their knees. The goal is to put kids in a position when learning so they can't be distracted by other kids moving, using their arms, squiggling around or being restless. Once the body is focused we teach the children to keep their eyes on the instructor. One of the cues we use is to yell out "Eyes on who?" the kids respond "Eyes on you!" Kids learn that their eyes must be on the person talking. This is taught in class and of course we remind the kids to do this at home and at school. Then we teach them to "focus their mind." The idea is that when distractions are at a minimum the children find it easier to concentrate.
I want you to focus on the future. I want you to focus on your goals. You become what you think about the most. If you think about all the negative things in your life or remarks you hear, you tend to notice them more and more. I want you to focus on positive thinking and the things you do well. This will come around and help you improve the things that need work.
We asked kids in an online survey: "What should a coach care about most?" You might expect them to answer "to focus on winning." But "Put me in, coach!" is what most kids really want.
In fact, the majority didn't think winning was all that important. Only 7% of girls said coaches should be most concerned with winning, while about 18% of boys said so.
Here's what boys and girls value most in a coach:
64% said giving everyone a chance to play
27% said teaching new skills
9% said winning
Striving for excellence is a great goal, but when coaches and parents apply too much pressure, kids can get overly worried or push themselves too hard physically, leading to injuries. Some kids may even go on unhealthy diets to lose or gain weight to be better at their sport.
And when sports become too competitive, kids who have only average or below-average skills might spend too much time on the bench instead of learning new skills.
10th Degree master instructor Greg Silva says, "I have been a martial arts instructor for 46 years. I believe there are no better coaches than martial arts teachers." Martial Arts instructors know that the door to success open "in" not "out". That means the success to building an athlete who is well balanced yet understands that being in top shape and a top performer begins with the proper attitude, confidence, self esteem, sportsmanship and self control. This building from the "inside out" will prevent kids from being lazy, giving up, or quitting. The nature of martial arts with setting continuous goals is a key to it's success. And there is no bench to sit on. All kids learn, train and compete while playing the "game" in every class they take.
To see how martial arts teaches so much, join us in our free "Beginners Martial Arts" Workshop