Cuts, Collisions, Crying: Tips for Your Kids Program

Little 5 year old Lyla approaches me cry, “Mr. Tim, can I tell you something?” “Yes Lyla, whats the matter?” “That kid over there hurt me.” “What Happened?” “We were running and he made me fall.” “Do you think he did it on purpose? “No.” “Ok well then get back to jogging.” “But my finger hurts so bad.” “Did you know Lyla, that I hurt my finger really bad once when it got caught in a door?” “No.” “Here let me show you the scar.” Lyla stops crying. “Ya it hurt pretty bad…”; (I explain full story). “Yep, got 4 stitches; whats your favorite warm up?” Lyla cheerfully chirps, “Zombie Crawls”! “Ok lets do Zombie Crawls; everybody, Zombie Crawls!” In this article, “Cuts, Collisions, Crying: Tips for Your Kids Program”, I will explain how I handle children who are “distraught” over an injury.

Cuts, Collisions, Crying: Tips for Your Kids Program

Know Your Kids

Knowing your enemy is the first step in gaining the upper hand to defeat them. Obviously our children in our programs are not our enemies. However, overcoming their distress is. To use the technique I will explain you must know and understand your children. In my previous articles Kung Fu Kids: Keeping your Kids Engaged and Lakeland Afterschool and Summer Camp Fun I briefly mention a few ways to engage your children but also how to connect with them. Listening to them and not just treating them like a “little kid that is misbehaving” is a big key. When I speak to them if there was a fight or bad behavior I help them rise to the occasion. I tell them they need to speak to me like an adult. I help them calm their emotions. If they are excited or crying I explain to them I can’t understand what they are saying. Doing this usually helps them focus in on me and speak clearly.

By doing so I have seen an increase in respect when it is my turn to say something. By listening to them and explaining to them they must speak to me clearly they know that I am listening. This gains their trust as I watch and learn how they think and communicate. Once problem at a time I gain a little more insight into the differences that each child has. Once I know how their brain works, what they like, dislike, etc., I can now employ one of my favorite techniques when they are overreacting to an injury…distraction and redirection.

The Art of Distraction and Redirection

When a child is hurt their emotional flux tends to be more dramatic then the pain actually calls for. This is typically rooted in the base need for attention to have someone help with the problem. As they grow however, they need to learn that crying is not the best way to get help. But by clearing communicating with an adult. This is not automatically learned however, it must be taught. There is a hurdle when it comes to teaching this though. That hurdle is that emotional wave mentioned earlier. When their emotions are high, it is near impossible to teach them anything let alone communicate. Distraction is the key to breaking that emotional wall you will encounter.


One of the best ways I have found to “distract” the child is connect with them by referring to one of your own injuries. Shifting the focus off of something requires something new to focus on. By relating to them with your own injury they will tend to perk up to hear the story. They want to know what happened to Mr. Tim and his finger and how he got that scar. Once the wave has been calmed by interesting anecdote, their attention must be moved forward or they will relapse into the “pain” which was mostly in their mind.


Redirection is the next key. By moving their focus on something positive, something they enjoy (preferably within the activity being done) their carefree mind will happily get distracted by the next thing. In the story I gave Lyla the option to pick the next warm up. Turns her brain completely away from her finger to “ooo, I get to pick the next one, which one do I like”. Once this is done they usually go about the day without remembering their finger at all.

Know your children. Distract them when emotions are high. Then redirect them on to something fun and positive!


Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care

“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

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.

Little Lions preschool martial arts

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.

Lakeland little lions kids preschool martial arts kickboxing karate kung fu ages 3 - 5 years old

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.


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