June 8, 2017 / in Kids and Afterschool / by Tim Kittelstad
“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care”. That statement has never been more true then when it comes to dealing with kids. Children these days have a serious struggle with staying focused. Lack of focused is compounded in a class setting. As an instructor we must take every advantage to maintain our student’s focus. One of the biggest ways to help them maintain their focus is helping them understand how much you really care about them. In this article, Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care, I will go over some tips on how to accomplish that.
Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care
Mat chats are a great way to intentionally impart wisdom to the next generation. At the Sifu Och Wing Chun and Just Dance Afterschool and Summer Camp Classes we take 5-10 minutes every class to sit and talk to our students. Each month we go over new concepts to help them grow as people. This can range from peer pressure to manners. These mat chats are not lectures. They are a time to engage with your students and listen to their responses. Getting them to open up to you shows them that they can trust you. When you listen to their responses you are leading by example. By showing them how to listen respectfully they can see what it means be respectful.
Listening When Disciplining
Many times I have seen, and experienced, instructors in martial arts and sports doing blind discipline. A child acts up and immediately they are jumped on and made to do some form of work out for a disciplinary action. Before moving forward let me confirm that discipline is key, without it classes are chaos and nothing is accomplished. However, maintaining discipline is a two sided coin. True discipline is achieved when the student is maintaining discipline out of respect, not fear. I accomplish this in my classes by taking the student’s aside that are acting up and talking to them.
When I have engaged a student I seek to explain to them my point of view. Helping them understand why I am pulling them out of class or off to the side. What I am trying to accomplish is to show the child that I have perceived a wrong has been committed. And then due to that perception something must be done about it. I then allow the child to explain himself. Allow him to share why he was acting up or not staying focused. Most of the time there is no good reason and proceed to explain why I must discipline the child. However, there are times where the child was not deserving of punishment.
To Punish Or Not To Punish
Many times when speaking to the children I have found that outside factors played a big role in their distraction or outburst. If they are having a hard time focusing on their training sometimes it leads back to family or school problems. In that scenario I have the chance to teach them another lesson. This can be anything from perseverance in a hard time to forgiving a friend for doing something wrong to them. In any case a punishment would have only hurt their growth.
Most of the time, unfortunately, the child is acting up because they simply have not learned discipline yet. In that is the case you must be consistent, firm, but caring in your punishment. If it is a repeat offender in the same day I will again take them aside and speak to them. If after I have spoken to them, and punished them multiple times then in might be time to speak to the parents about what you can do as a time to help with his discipline.
Children can be wonderful to teach. Their mind can absorb very quickly and they have a very high energy most of the time. That being said, your kids classes are what you make them. If you make them a time that the children feel safe and cared for, they are more likely to listen and enjoy your classes.