We asked kids in an online survey: "What should a coach care about most?" You might expect them to answer "to focus on winning." But "Put me in, coach!" is what most kids really want.
In fact, the majority didn't think winning was all that important. Only 7% of girls said coaches should be most concerned with winning, while about 18% of boys said so.
Here's what boys and girls value most in a coach:
64% said giving everyone a chance to play
27% said teaching new skills
9% said winning
Striving for excellence is a great goal, but when coaches and parents apply too much pressure, kids can get overly worried or push themselves too hard physically, leading to injuries. Some kids may even go on unhealthy diets to lose or gain weight to be better at their sport.
And when sports become too competitive, kids who have only average or below-average skills might spend too much time on the bench instead of learning new skills.
10th Degree master instructor Greg Silva says, "I have been a martial arts instructor for 46 years. I believe there are no better coaches than martial arts teachers." Martial Arts instructors know that the door to success open "in" not "out". That means the success to building an athlete who is well balanced yet understands that being in top shape and a top performer begins with the proper attitude, confidence, self esteem, sportsmanship and self control. This building from the "inside out" will prevent kids from being lazy, giving up, or quitting. The nature of martial arts with setting continuous goals is a key to it's success. And there is no bench to sit on. All kids learn, train and compete while playing the "game" in every class they take.
Self-esteem develops over time.
And if it's low, it can be raised. Here are things parents can do:
Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. Martial Arts is one of the best sports you can enroll your child because they will be learning all the time while having fun. Learning basics, the proper way to exercise, traditional martial arts kata and self defense are all skills that increase competence. Competence increased confidence and self esteem.
When coaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. Then let them do what they can, even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child has lots of opportunities to learn, try, and feel proud. Don't make new challenges too easy — or too hard. Holding pads too high for them to reach may seem funny but can also lead them to believe that they are not talented.
Praise your child, but do it wisely. Of course, it's good to praise kids. Your praise is a way to show that you are proud, too. But research shows that some ways of praising kids can actually backfire. At our martial arts school we use a technique called a praise sandwich. We praise effort, make a correction and the praise improvement after the child practices more.
Here's how to do it right:
Avoid over-praising. Praise that doesn't feel earned doesn't ring true. For example, telling a child he kicked almost straight up when he knows he didn't feels hollow and fake. It's better to say, "I know that was a tough class, but we all have off days. I'm proud of you for not giving up." Add a vote of confidence, "Tomorrow, you'll be back on your game."
Praise effort rather than fixed qualities. Avoid focusing praise on results such as doing the best in class or fixed qualities (such as being smart or athletic). This kind of praise can lead kids to avoid challenges that may threaten the good 'reputation' they get praised for most.
Instead, offer most of your praise for effort, progress, and attitude. For example: "You're working hard on that split," or, "You're getting better and better at these combinations," or, "I'm proud of you for practicing and going to classes — you've really stuck with it. This kind of praise encourages kids to put effort into things, work toward goals, and try. When kids do that, they are more likely to succeed.
Be a good role model. When you put effort into everyday tasks (like raking the leaves, making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you're setting a good example. Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning up toys, or doing great stances.
Modeling the right attitude counts, too. If you train in martial arts along with your child, get excited about the classes (or at least without grumbling or complaining), you teach your child to do the same.
Ban harsh criticism. The messages kids hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Harsh words ("You're so lazy!") are harmful, not motivating. When kids absorb negative messages about themselves, they feel bad about themselves, and act accordingly.
Focus on strengths. Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has opportunities to develop these strengths. Nurturing strengths is better than focusing on weaknesses if you want to help kids feel good about themselves and succeed. All students progress at different rates at different point in their martial arts journey. It’s not a belt race it’s all about becoming a black belt over time not “getting” a black belt
As kids navigate friendships and cliques, there's plenty parents can do to offer support. If your child seems upset, or suddenly spends time alone when usually very social, ask about it.
Here are some tips:
Talk about your own experiences. Share your own experiences of school — cliques have been around for a long time!
Help put rejection in perspective. Remind your child of times he or she has been angry with parents, friends, or siblings — and how quickly things can change.
Shed some light on social dynamics. Acknowledge that people are often judged by the way a person looks, acts, or dresses, but that often people act mean and put others down because they lack self-confidence and try to cover it up by maintaining control.
Find stories they can relate to. Many books, TV shows, and movies portray outsiders triumphing in the face of rejection and send strong messages about the importance of being true to your own nature and the value of being a good friend, even in the face of difficult social situations. For school-age kids, books like "Blubber" by Judy Blume illustrate how quickly cliques can change. Older kids and teens might relate to movies such as "Mean Girls," "Angus," "The Breakfast Club," and "Clueless."
Foster out-of-school friendships. Get kids involved in extracurricular activities (if they aren't already) — Martial Arts is a great choice. Martial Arts schools are Bully Proof Zones, kids treat each other with respect and kids are part of a positive team of role models.
You are invited to try a Beginner's Martial Arts Workshop, for self defense, fitness and fun. Please register here for this week's FREE community workshop for kids 11 - 15
There are some basic defensive tips every women should know and make part of their daily lives.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Self defense begins before you even know you need it. Always and in all situations, from going to the grocery store to finding your car in a dark parking lot - scan and be aware of what and who is around you and know where you are. Observe and think "what if?".
What if someone jumped out at you from behind that car? What would you do?
Part of what makes a women vulnerable to attack is the appearance of not paying attention, or appearing uncomfortable. Projecting a confident attentive presence can be a powerful deterrent. We are creatures of habit. It is far too easy to be lax in familiar surroundings and we lose the edge of really checking our surroundings and looking for anything unusual - especially in and around our own neighborhoods, homes, workplaces and cars. Many women are stalked and their habits watched over a period of time to take advantage of when their guard is likely down.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
We as women, have powerful instincts - trust them and use them to your advantage. If something or someone does not "feel" safe - you are probably right and should take steps to avoid them. Do not concern yourself with what other's will think that it is a silly, paranoid thought. Listen to your gut and act accordingly.
Have your keys out and ready before starting for the parking lot or your front door. Don't wait until you get in your car to begin the typically long search for your keys in your purse. Don't organize your purchases or review your receipts in the car or do anything that keeps you from locking the doors, starting the engine and leaving immediately. Review your receipts before leaving the store and place your bags in the car quickly. Lock your doors and make sure your car windows are up immediately upon entering the car. Once you enter your home, shut the door and lock it immediately, even if it means making multiple trips to the car to unload your purchases. Take the time to lock the doors each trip. Know where you are going and be ready with keys or whatever you may need before you get there.
BE PREPARED FOR FLIGHT OR FIGHT
Being in the mindset that you will fight to protect yourself and knowing how you will do that ahead of time not only gives you greater confidence but increases your chance of successfully defending yourself. Escape is always the best option. Being aware and thinking defensively will help you to see "the possibilities" of flight or fight before anything happens. I would suggest that if you choose to carry a firearm, that you take an armed personal defense course and if you do not carry a firearm, a basic self defense course is highly recommended. These self-defense programs should include simulated assaults with a fully padded instructor in realistic rape and attack scenarios, to allow you to practice what you've learned.
Just as we teach our children to stay away from strangers, we need to practice what we teach. Keep your distance when walking past strangers and be observant and mentally prepared. If a car pulls up and needs assistance, keep a very safe distance if you choose to offer help - or simply keep moving. With the internet becoming one of the most common ways we meet new people, extreme caution should be used when giving out any personal information or addresses. Everyone and anyone can look and seem "safe" online. Trust no one.
PROTECTING YOURSELF AT HOME
Home invasion crimes are on the rise. The best way to prevent a home invasion is to always keep your doors and windows locked with effective locks and to simply never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who's on the other side or you can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there. Many criminals will dress up as a repair man or even a police officer. You can call the company or the police station to verify before opening your door. In the event that an intruder breaks in while you're home, you should have a safe room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray, fire extinguisher or safely stored firearm.