10 Tips Parents Can Use to Build Confidence & Leadership in Kids
Posted: March 23, 2017
Every parent wants happy, healthy and confident kids.
Here at USA KARATE, our instructors feel that teaching kids martial arts can help build self-confidence in children of all ages. The techniques we practice at our school help children become accurate in their movements, skilled in their learning and confident in their martial arts skills.
As a parent, here are some great suggestions on how you can can instill self-confidence in your children at home:
Make Them Think
Kids love to learn new things and believe it or not, they enjoy challenges as well. Provide ideas that can spark your child’s imagination, then follow up to help them through the process. Here are just a couple of ideas:
- Provide riddles or puzzles for them to solve. These can range from a simple open-ended question that sparks creative thought to more standard brain-teasers like Sudoku or board games.
- Introduce them to books that ask questions or add new topics and adventures. This will allow them to expand their knowledge and fantasize about faraway places or experiences.
- Work together to solve problems, but let them take the lead. Working together with your child to solve a riddle, or performing a task around the house can build self-confidence and allow them to be a superstar in your eyes.
Focus and concentration is a known benefit of kids martial arts classes. From the most basic of forms to more complex moves, kids get “in the zone” and this practice expands to other areas of their life, both at home and in school.
Engage Them Socially
Let’s face it, today’s kids spend more of their time in front of a TV or smartphone screen that we would like. Getting children socially active can help prevent them from becoming withdrawn and can build self-confidence among others in their age group and even with adults as well. Here are some suggestions:
- Hold an adult party, or maybe a barbecue, and ask the kids to help. They can answer the door, take coats, introduce guests as they arrive and even help serve (non-alcoholic) beverages and food. Interacting with adults can help them relate to an older age group and expand their horizons.
- Have them host their own party. Have them plan, send out invitations, shop for food and supplies, prepare for guests and run the whole show. This will teach planning and make them big shots in the eyes of their friends. What could possibly build more confidence than that?
- Have them take a class, maybe martial arts, swimming or other physical or craft-oriented education. This will help keep them active and away from the computer or TV while teaching them life skills.
Is there a greater social experience than a martial arts class for kids? Kids learn to work together and help each other improve, while learning to interact with adults in a respectful way, helping them fit in with the other respectful kids! Parents of martial arts students are pleasantly surprised to find out that this becomes an engaging social experience for them as well, as friendships and bonds are made with other parents along for the kids martial arts journey!
Have Them Help
Kids like feeling as though they are making a difference. Helping others is a great way to give them this sort of satisfaction. Asking kids to contribute will allow them to see that tasks require effort and thinking, and will prepare them for larger tasks ahead. Here are a couple of ways that kids can help:
- Help around the house - this will give them self-confidence by contributing to a safe, clean place to live while working with their parents in a team effort.
- Bring cupcakes to a nursing home. This will allow youngsters to see how adults live when they get older and is an excellent venue for adult praise to be lavished on the kids.
- Volunteering at the local animal shelter - kids love animals, and animals love kids. Caring for a shelter animal will build both a sense of responsibility and sense of self-confidence. Just be prepared when your child wants to bring that puppy home with them!
Martial arts not only teaches children self-confidence and self-defense skills - training in an environment that often requires a partner and working together with other kids builds teamwork skills as they help their peers practice moves and drills together.
Let Them Pursue Their interests
Kids want to be emotionally attached to what they do. Letting kids independently pursue their own interests is a great way to let them explore for themselves and build a bond with what they are doing. Don't be tempted to force them into what you think they should like, let them develop their own preferences. However, a little parental guidance may be needed if their ideas get too outrageous or dangerous.
Kids love superheroes in action movies. It is very rare that a child does not express an interest in training to learn cool moves like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or a Power Ranger! However, something magical happens as their martial arts journey progresses: the goal of achieving a higher belt and eventually becoming a black belt instills goal-setting skills that many other athletic activities do not. Just ask the parent of any martial arts student!
We like to praise our children when they do well, but this can sometimes go too far. Self-confidence takes time, and when parents shower praise on their kids for every little thing, they can set the bar too low and keep the child from pushing to do better. Praise when something great happens, but save your praise for that special occasion.
In our martial arts classes, we make sure to praise our young students when they perform a move correctly, or take the initiative to help their fellow students. However, we also focus on making sure that this happens in a controlled environment, where discipline and respect is emphasized.
Let Them Make the Decisions
Kids feel empowered when they are put in charge. Giving them the opportunity to make their own decisions helps them build self-confidence and good judgment. However, be sure they know the limits and provide them with multiple choices. Here are a couple of examples:
- Let them choose between a couple of lunch options on school days.
- Once they recognize the difference between warm and cold weather, let them make decisions on how warm to dress. (You’ll be surprised how quickly they opt for the warm clothes on cold days!)
- Let them, within reason, choose their wardrobe, hair style, and bedroom decorations.
Decision-making is one of the greatest benefits of martial arts classes for kids. We not only teach your child to make decisions, we teach them to make GOOD decisions! A big part of our curriculum for kids martial arts classes is teaching them how to handle and respond to peer pressure, as well as regularly discussing anti-bullying strategies and techniques they can use every day.
We are all familiar with the stereotypical “helicopter parent.” Keeping too close of a watch on your kids can stifle their creativity and sense of independence. Let them take a few risks. Let them be on their own a little. Here are a couple of things you can try:
- Encourage them to read a book or solve a puzzle on their own.
- Let them stay at a friend’s house overnight or for the weekend.
- Give them a "longer leash" on the playground or the nature trail.
Even the youngest of martial arts students feel empowered as they step away from their parents and onto the mat to join their friends during training. It’s not only a great exercise for them, it’s also a great way for parents to step away and observe their children interacting with others.
Be Calm & Confident
Children watch their parents much more closely than you would think, and they can pick up on their moods quite easily. Try to keep calm when things don't go as planned, or when the adults are having a tough time with parent-related issues. Maintain confidence in your, and your child's abilities. Here are a couple of ways to do this:
- Don’t lose your temper when your child doesn’t perform up to your expectations. Encourage, rather than scold them, and calmly guide your child towards improvement.
- Be confident in your own abilities to nurture your child. This confidence will come with experience and can also be built through reading books on parenting, or from simply speaking with other parents.
It is much easier to be a calm and confident parent when your child is respectful and disciplined! The benefits of martial arts are sure to positively affect everyone in the household!
Every child will have their up days and their down days. When things are going well, give praise when appropriate. When things aren't going so well, stand back a little and see if your child can work out the problem on their own. Providing them the opportunity to work through their trouble spots can enhance their problem-solving abilities, promote determination, and lead to greater self-confidence.
The independence from their parents while on the mat practicing cool self-defense moves is a great step towards not only building confidence in your child, but also builds confidence in the parent, knowing that their kid can work through issues with others on their own. Of course when necessary, one of our instructors will mediate any issues that might arise, but without the emotional attachment a parent might express.
Fantasize About the Future
Even young kids know that they will grow someday and future fantasizing will get them in the goal-setting mood. Our kids martial program provides a great way to get kids excited about their future! As they continue their training and progress through belt ranks, they will learn how to set goals to and formulate plans to meet each one.
When you sign up for a free trial today, your child will be on their way to finishing the school year strong, as they enter the classroom with a positive, focused mindset. You’ll help your child prepare mentally for their most fun and productive summer yet!
At USA KARATE, we always say “A Black Belt is a White Belt that never gave up.” Each class your child takes is a step closer to achieving the ultimate goal in martial arts: becoming a Black Belt. This journey not only builds goal setting skills, but also becomes a lifelong source of pride and self-confidence, and will possibly define the kind of adult your child will become. So what are you waiting for? I want to personally invite you and your child to a free lesson, so you can have a first-hand experience and see what all the hype is about. Martial Arts changes lives and it can do the same for your child!