We all love to see our kids excel in everything they do. There is no doubt that when kids finally nail their martial arts form, or fly across the mat and break a board, everyone involved shares a sense of accomplishment.
BUT it is only a matter of time before our ninjas come across something that challenges them in class.
Before we go any further, let’s agree that challenges are good things!
If you are never challenged then either you aren’t working hard enough, or you’re not growing. Both of those are opposite concepts in relation to martial arts. From rank to rank, everything gets harder because being a Martial Artist is about growth and being better than you were the day before.
Getting 1% better every day makes you 365% better by the end of the year!
As adults, we understand this but for children, this can be a little more difficult for them to wrap their heads around.
Here is a quick list of 4 things you can do or say to build a positive growth mindset!
1) How does this make you feel?
Often times when our children are challenged or stumbled they feel disappointed in the fact that either they let you down, or they let themselves down. It is important to allow them to take the time to process their feelings and to not use blanket statements like “you will be ok” or “get back on that horse”. Those statements would be better used after they are able to process their emotions.
2) Hug it out
When your kids are feeling upset, they are experiencing a major dose of cortisol (stress hormone). A nice hug will help trigger the release of oxytocin (connection chemical) and will help reduce the level of cortisol in their system. Even a high five can help, try using the “up high, down low, too slow” approach for added smiles!
3) Come up with a plan
Once we work past the initial emotional downswing, resolve to set a plan to help overcome whatever the challenge was. A great way to go about this is to set goals! When doing so, start small and break the main goal down into smaller, easily digestible steps that are more attainable. Once you develop some momentum, then raise the bar and make your goals just a little bit harder. Keep doing this until you have overcome the initial challenge.
4) Focus on growth
Some things are extremely difficult, and everyone has a different experience. What may be hard for your child, might be easy for another and vice versa. The goal here is to help our ninjas be focused on their own personal growth and not get lost comparing themselves to others. Remind them that what matters is that they give 100% and at the end of the day, YOU will be proud of them for that!
Using these tips will help provide your ninja with a sense of confidence and self-esteem when they face a challenge on the mat or in life. Remember to be consistent because developing a positive inner voice will begin with YOU. If you are able to foster a positive growth mindset on the outside, this will become the inner voice that will stay with them for a VERY long time!
PS, If you want to help encourage positive practice habits for your child to help them see improvement in their martial arts, check out our article, 3 Easy Steps to Make Practicing Their Idea.
Michael is a 6th-degree black sash under his teacher, Moises Arocho, and has been training in martial arts since 1985. Michael has a degree in Massage Therapy from NY College of Health Professions. He is the co-owner of 4GK Martial Arts in Patchogue, NY, and Skillz of Patchogue, a childhood development facility using martial arts and other movement modalities as the vehicle for kids’ growth and success. Michael is also the Lead Consultant for Skillz Worldwide.