One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is seeing the transformation in children, especially those with low confidence and self esteem. That moment when you finally see their confidence click into place and that child starts to transform right in front of your eyes is a priceless experience that I get to see regularly. I have seen shy unconfident children change in one lesson. Others over the case of a few months. It’s always an amazing thing to witness. With that in mind here are some of the things we do at my martial arts classes to build up children’s confidence.
- We are always positive, patient and encouraging. We nurture your children’s confidence by looking for little wins initially. Are they standing well and listening. Are they doing a good kick or even just putting in good effort, despite not kicking perfectly. We start off with small wins and as they progress we see their confidence grow. Our students usually work with us for many years so we can afford to by patient.
- We correct sparingly. Unless they are doing something dangerous that could hurt or injure themselves or others we only try to make one correction at a time. Before we correct we try and find a positive first to soften the blow and then correct one thing. Once they correct that one thing we praise them for it and have them practice a few more times before making anther correction. That way they begin to form a habit of the correction before moving on to another.
- We believe in your children before they even believe in themselves. We know unless there is a serious disability that whatever we ask your child to do, it’s within their ability. All they need to do is try, and practice, and they will be able to do it. It might not be perfect but we can see its potential and we coach them until they get it. I’ve lost count of the children who have told me in class they can’t do something, only for me to tell them that’s nonsense, and have them doing it a few minutes later.
- We teach them that the only person they are competing and comparing themselves to is themselves. Competition has its place for some people and around 25% flourish with it. About 50% have no real benefit from competitions. And 25% find competition with others so stressful that they fold under the pressure. In my class we remind the children that they aren’t competing and shouldn’t compare against others, only look at themselves and work hard to improve so they are better today than they were yesterday.
- We let them know that there are things we found difficult initially. I used to hate a variety of kicks and struggled with them. As an instructor children think we are at such a high level and its not something they could ever achieve. So hearing from me that I struggled with xyz but now can do it shows that even their role models have failed at performing xyz. They learn that perseverance is the key to improving.
- We teach them that sometimes they can make or break how they perform before they even try. How they think can greatly influence their chance of success. By thinking negatively they are almost certainly guaranteeing they fail and by thinking and imagining themselves performing successfully they are far more likely to succeed. We have many tools to help them realise this. One is by having them break boards. This is by far more a mental challenge than physical.
- The class motto. You will hear the words Pil Seung over and over again in EVERY lesson almost like a mantra or affirmation. These two Korean words mean certain victory. We explain to the children (and adults) that this means to always do your best and never give up. That its not failing that counts. We learn from failures and turn them into lessons that help us win. We get knocked down yet get back up. If you look at the biography on any person you think is successful you will almost guarantee that you will see this mindset and attitude.
These are just seven of the little things we do in my classes to help build children’s confidence. It’s not exhaustive, there are many other things we do, not included in this list . They are all common sense and transferable to other areas and skills, whether they come to my club to learn martial arts, or try a different activity or martial art elsewhere. These are just some of the things you want a good instructor to be doing to help your children.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. Feel free to pass them on to anyone you think might benefit from reading them.
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