Recently I had a call from a Mom wanting to put her child into Taekwondo classes. She said that he needed to learn more discipline because he had “anger issues”. She went straight to asking the costs and such. When I found out the child was 5 years old, I politely informed her that we started with 8 year olds and up. She got frustrated and ended the call.
What I took away from this was that she didn’t know how to handle her disrespectful child. Since I am a firm believer in the “Mother’s curse” (I hope you have a child just like you were!), I felt that she had lost control of managing his behavior and wanted me to fix through “discipline” taught in class.
The discipline demonstrated by children is directly related to what they are taught in their main (family) environment. Yes, there is development of discipline in the martial arts but typically it occurs because the student “wants” to learn and grow (to reach their goals). The key factor here is that the student “wants” to participate in the activity. Unfortunately, martial arts classes won’t “fix” this for a parent.
This is where the mother’s request to work on the child’s anger issues comes in. What she is really asking is to teach her child some respect. If the child isn’t taught respect at home, the struggle to “force” respect in class will turn ugly. Respect is earned, it can never be demanded. Again, this means that the student must “choose” to participate. Because of this, the student probably has some respect for the class already. This respect will grow according to how well they learn the material and connect to the teacher.
Classes for 5 year olds, who want to be in class, aren’t about training in the martial arts. These are motor skill development and socializing. This is an important development, though, as it teaches the student to appreciate a group dynamic and interaction. Creating an understanding is this manner can help derail bullying issues later. The real martial arts concepts come into use here and develop strong, service-oriented students who will be successful and productive within the community.
Author: Master Robert Frankovich
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