The benefits of Taekwondo for kids are endless, and parents can help maximise those benefits. For all that, there’s a popular belief among some parents, and we hear it often at our Brisbane Taekwondo classes, that they need to accept their child’s opinion on their chosen activity. It’s certainly important that children feel they’re being heard, however instantly accepting their opinion can see kids giving up when the going gets tough, instead of sticking with it to find success at the other end.
Many parents are fine with their kids excelling in martial art training, or dropping out of martial art training, or anything in between. Their thinking is that this is in their child’s interest, not theirs, and that the child should have the drive to progress; a parent’s role is essentially as a taxi driver to get kids to and from classes. They don’t want to be involved in their child’s training. They want their child to make it all happen on their own, and that can often lead to kids not finding the success they’re capable of, no matter how much natural ability they possess, or how good the tuition is.
Martial Arts Progress by the Numbers
Many kids begin martial art training around ages seven to eight. That’s a good time to start as kids have enough focus to learn techniques, have some understanding of the consequences of their skills, and are full of energy and excitement. We see it here at Pacific International Taekwondo, where lots of them take to martial art training easily and with great enthusiasm.
Most schools award a junior black belt to kids around the age of twelve, but statistics show that only about 1% of kids who start out in a martial art actually make it to that junior black belt. ONE out of ONE HUNDRED!
Martial art training is challenging! Sparring can seem frightening at the beginning and any bruises and bumps can be a shock – although the rates of injury are far lower than in other popular kids’ sports, there’s a different emotional impact that comes with martial art training. For all that, it’s an incredibly worthwhile path towards self-discovery, self-esteem, pride, physical health, emotional stability, and social confidence.
The Role of Parents in Martial Arts Training
Why do we see so few kids make it all the way through the system? One answer has to do with parental support.
Let’s be clear. Most of the desire and drive to overcome the challenges of martial arts training comes from inside the child. But a parent’s influence is very important; parents can help their kids see they have the potential to make it, even though it won’t always be easy or nice.
There is no child who doesn’t want to make it to that black belt. That same thing that drove them to want to step into the training hall for the very first lesson is still with them, even as they struggle with motivation, or become intimidated by the process. There will be ups and downs along the way, and the question is whether kids have the support they need to get through those bumps and stick with it to the other side.
To find success, most children need an extra push. That’s where parents come into the picture, and where they’re essential!
Children don’t have the life experience to deal with the slumps that are a natural part of anything. Those seemingly endless periods of practice, the repetition, and the wonderful lessons in loss are all huge challenges for kids to cope with. They’re just as challenging for adults doing martial art training to cope with as well!
Your child is unique. They bring their own personality to their martial art training. We definitely recognize there are some kids for which this isn’t a good fit; they won’t get that black belt no matter how much parental support they receive. However, most kids are in the middle, which means they can get there if they have the right amount of great teaching, instructor encouragement and parental support.
The role of a parent who has a child pursuing a martial art is to push them when they need a push. Almost no child will make it to that black belt when parents aren’t interested in their progress. Sometimes that means pushing them to make it through another month so they can remember why they loved it to begin with, and sometimes it’s just listening to them whinge and offering some gentle encouragement. In short, a parent can help their child see the long game that leads to that black belt!