Here's an easy answer for today’s fast paced world with kids:
Even though that is the kind of question that could easily bring up a ton of other ones, like:
1. "What would you like them to get out of martial arts training?"
2. "What are they struggling with the most that they could use help with?" and,
3. "How old are they?"
,there is a simple answer to the amount of time that can help your child truly benefit from training.
This is because of what really matters,
and that is:
BASICALLY THE SAME GREAT "STUFF" HAPPENS TO EVERYONE THE FIRST 9 MONTHS!
The martial arts are CRAZY! And when it's new to people, especially kids, it's crazy FUN to practice. That "new and fun" feeling can last 9 months pretty easy even at today’s pace. What happens when fun is being had? FAST LEARNING!
What should we shoot for during these "fun" months?
1. Respect for you!
While the martial arts are new, important, and fun to them, the behaviors of respecting you as a person and their parent is critical! This is when pointing out your appreciation every time they demonstrate respect has much more power than waiting for disrespectful actions and only bringing attention to those. We call it highlighting behavior and it works great (if the good actions are looked for) during this new, fun stage.
2. The "I can do it!" attitude.
With an average class offering a child the opportunity to achieve dozens of accomplishments per visit, 9 classes a month equals 80 visits in 9 months. That is a lot of accomplishing which builds realistic self-esteem! See our last blog about practicing at home to multiply this benefit.
3. Improved focusing skills.
Not much in our lives is designed to keep our attention for very long. Electronics wisely use tactics that work with how our brains tend to dislike prolonged focus. Our children can't be rewired so much but they can learn how to use their focus intensely to achieve great things! Martial arts are famous for developing intense focus. The first 9 months are filled with different levels of challenge and while it's still new and exciting, a lot happens in this short amount of time.
No case is the same by any means but you can bet this comes from a caring and experienced source. Any teacher like myself would love to keep their students longer than 9 months and we all know that is up to us.
I've seen miraculous things happen in even shorter amounts of time of course but it would be a first for me to see the many benefits that parents are looking for not happen in the 9 short months that we are talking about here. Hostile households are the biggest opponents but even that has been beaten many times!
9 months may lead to a year, a decade, or a lifestyle forever but the skills and habits developed over this short time can last a lifetime!
Whether kids are athletic or lazy, shy or outgoing, like to be physical or hate it, or have tried things and quit, martial arts help all of these things. The side benefits of being able to protect themselves are important too and it takes 9 months to have a little clue about that as well.
One thing I do not recommend is to treat their classes like a privilege. This is real education for real life! If it's the first thing to get taken away as a consequence, the education is stopped. We don't pull them out of school for the same reason. They had privileges before they started training that they could still lose (video games, Internet usage, etc...) Every class is full of valuable education! We can't be surprised when we pull them from class and they don't get what we'd like out of their training. Many parents have had success with using discipline drills and/or enrolling their child in discipline style private lessons when they are challenged with behavior issues. What’s going to help them make a better choice next time they encounter the same situation? A time out? Getting yelled at? Or something that builds discipline to help make a better choice next time? Discipline drills/lessons are NOT fun and they try to avoid them after experiencing a few! ;)
If or when the "fun stage" simmers down, the commitment to an excellent life stage becomes important. Parents have a hefty responsibility to find good role models and beneficial activities for their children. Committing to an excellent life is what these arts are all about. As people, we can do a lot in 9 months. A typical school year is that long and babies are finished cooking in that time as well, ready to take on the world!
Give them 9 and encourage, encourage, encourage!!
“Ziggy, I like watching you practice! I see more skill each time! Isn’t it cool that we get good at what we practice? That’s why grandpa is so good at complaining, he practices a lot!” ha ha
Keep playing, Derrick Maretti