MARTIAL ARTS FOR BOTH CHILDREN AND ADULTS!

Martial Arts in Bradenton

Parenting 101

Raising a child can be both exciting and challenging. This is where independence blossoms, curiosity expands, and emotions can be intense. Here’s some advice to help you navigate this dynamic phase.

Nurturing Independence:

We want them to develop their own independence. We want them to experience challenges and struggles. We even want them to experience failure so they can overcome those failures and try again until they succeed. To do this, we have several strategies.

  • Offer age-appropriate choices: Let them choose outfits, healthy snacks, or activities within safe boundaries. This fosters decision-making skills and builds confidence. Make the choices between multiple good things. Giving a child a choice of what to eat tonight is different than giving them a choice between broccoli or the green beans. Vegetables are not a choice, but which vegetable is a choice.
  • Assign small tasks: Encourage their contribution to household chores like setting the table or putting away toys. This instills responsibility and a sense of ownership. If a child can do a thing, let them do that thing, even if, actually, especially if, it takes them several tries. Don’t take the task from them when they fail. This promotes giving up.
  • Promote exploration: Provide opportunities for safe, creative exploration through open-ended toys, nature walks, or pretend play. This fuels their imagination and problem-solving abilities. Role playing games are a perfect family pastime to encourage reading, risk taking, creativity and exploration.

Managing Emotions:

Children are emotional creatures. The portion of the brain that is used for rational thought isn’t even fully developed until we are around 25. This is why we don’t move them out at age 8 and why car insurance is so expensive until we are 25 years old. We don’t want our kids to control their emotions. Emotions are pure and wonderful, but they (we) must learn to control our reaction to our emotions.

  • Validate their feelings: Acknowledge their emotions. “I can see you are struggling with this not going the way you want it to.” Help them name their feelings and provide ways to express them healthily. “Are you feeling angry, frustrated or sad?” Remember when we taught them to identify colors, animals, letters and numbers? This is the same thing, but harder, because it is feelings. Also, be patient yourself, see the next topic…
  • Model emotional regulation: Show them how you manage your own emotions calmly and constructively. Talk about your feelings and the strategies you use to cope. Openly identify what you are feeling and openly admit you are struggling to control your reactions to your emotions. This lets them know not to feel guilty when they feel something. That guilt contributes to self-loathing, anxiety and panic attacks later in life.
  • Set clear expectations: Your consequences must be consequential. Establish firm yet age-appropriate boundaries and consequences for unacceptable behavior. Explain the reason behind the rules and stick to them consistently. Do you want to make sure your child doesn’t trust you? Then don’t follow through with your consequences. When you don’t follow through, it tells them that you can’t be trusted and you don’t put value on them enough to follow through, and that you don’t put value or your word.
  • Offer calming techniques: Teach them simple strategies like deep breathing, washing their face, counting to ten, or squeezing a stress ball to manage strong emotions. Exercise such as walks, jumping rope and using punching bags are great for this too.

Supporting Learning & Growth:

  • Read together daily: Make reading a fun and engaging experience. Choose books that spark their interests and discuss the stories to deepen understanding. Read the same books often to build word identification and read them differently occasionally, in odd voices or in a song like fashion. Read to them but have them follow along in the book until they are ready to do it themselves.
  • Embrace curiosity: Encourage their “why” and “how” questions. Answer them clearly and encourage them to research further using age-appropriate tools. It will get annoying, but short answers encourage that curiosity and their drive to be smarter.
  • Make learning fun: Integrate learning into everyday activities. Count objects while grocery shopping, write stories, or explore scientific concepts through experiments. We learn best through play so make learning and daily life more fun.
  • Limit screen time: Encourage active play, physical activities, and social interaction over passive screen time. Screens have their time in all our lives, but allow your child to earn that time. A good tactic is to give them automatically 10 minutes of screen time per day. They get additional screen time for accomplishing set things. You get paid to do your job, you get a bonus if you do more. We used…
    • 1. Doing your chores, 5 minutes
    • 2. Do school work including reading, 5 minutes
    • 3. Practice their martial arts, 5 minutes
    • 4. Active play and especially play outside, weather permitting, 5 minutes
    • 5. Show family love and respect. 5 minutes

Building Connections:

  • Spend quality time together: Engage in activities they enjoy, from board games, drawing or painting, to sports to simply talking and listening. This strengthens your bond and provides emotional security. Also, don’t assign chores but do them together. This creates great opportunities for conversation and can be very therapeutic for them…and you.
  • Set limits on technology for everyone: Those screen time limitations we discussed, establish screen time limits for all family members, including yourself. This encourages face-to-face interaction and family time. It sets a better example for adulthood too.
  • Foster positive social interactions: Create opportunities for them to play with other children, whether through martial arts classes, park visits, playdates, or group activities. This helps develop social skills and build friendships.

Remember:

  • Every child develops at their own pace. Be patient, accepting, and celebrate their unique individualities and milestones. Never compare your child to another. Be easily in awe of your amazing child. Don’t be critical of them or any other child (or adult) in front of them.
  • Seek support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to teachers, counselors, or parenting resources for guidance and support when needed. No one knows everything and what we do know about child development is vastly improved from past generations.
  • Enjoy the journey: This is a precious time! Embrace the laughter, discoveries, and challenges of raising your child. Cherish the memories you create together.

These are just some starting points, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. By understanding your child’s unique needs and adapting your approach, you can navigate this exciting stage of their development and help them thrive.

As I’ve always said, there is no more rewarding job in the world than being a parent. There is also no job that is more important for you to get right, and unfortunately, there is no job, if done poorly, that can be more dangerous. I’m certain every criminal, serial killer and mass murder had parents who thought they knew what they were doing.

Parent Strong!

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