Don't take it away...

 in Bradenton - Ancient Ways Martial Arts Academy

Martial Arts as Consequences

Years ago, one of our moms calls and says, “Joey has not been very good at school this week so we told him he can’t go to his martial arts training.” I sigh, knowing it’s the wrong thing to do, but I back her play, telling the boy over the phone to do better so he can come back to class soon.

Later, while talking with mom, I ask, “Do you feel like martial arts training have helped Joey’s behavior?”

She replies, “I do, and it’s been amazing watching him become more respectful, more in control and more disciplined. He does his chores without me even asking him to anymore.”

“Since we’ve established that we think martial arts training is good for him, instead of using it as consequences for bad behavior, use something that is less important, like video games or TV time. Taking away his martial arts is like telling a kid he isn’t allowed to eat his broccoli because he ate too much candy. Also, when he is here at the studio, you have me to add to the role models who are encouraging better behavior at school. If he isn’t in class, I can’t help you. If it comes down to it, I can even make his next belt rank dependant on him improving at home and at school, and if it doesn’t improve, his rank can actually go backwards, although I do that in only extreme cases. Taking away everything a child values teaches them to value nothing, and taking away something they already earned, breaks down trust between us.”

She smiles and agrees, seeing my point. I let a couple of moments hang there, then ask, “Why do you think he has been bad at school recently, has something changed at home or school?”

“Well,” she looks thoughtful before continuing, “I don’t think so but, his teacher is pregnant and announced that she will be leaving soon for her maternity leave, but surely that wouldn’t have made him act up.”

I smile. “Structure is the main ingredient in the recipe of empowering our kids. Any change in the day-to-day regiment of a child’s life creates stress, so they begin to act out. They usually don’t even know why they do it. It’s all subconscious. Providing the structure of martial arts training on regular days can help to re-establish that empowerment.” 

“I see your point,” she said. “Next time he is acting out, I’ll keep him coming.” 

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