Teaching kids anything can be a challenge. Teaching them important life skills such as self-discipline and self-control can be especially challenging. Over the many years I have worked with kids, I have been able to develop a system for teaching them many of these important life skills. Over the course of the next 15 posts, I will go over how to teach kids life skills using martial arts. This first post will serve as a blueprint for the process with subsequent posts focusing on the nitty gritty of each particular skill.
Before getting too far into the process, it is important to understand that this is a proactive approach rather than a reactive one. We must continually work on these skills with kids rather than wait until something happens and we need to address it. Think about it this way, it is much better to eat healthy and exercise as a lifestyle than start doing those things when the doctor tells you that you are overweight and experiencing health problems.
There are 4 steps to teaching kids any life skill. These steps are as follows:
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1. Define the word/topic in words they understand
Some of these words are fairly complicated and need to be defined in a way they understand. Repeat the definition and have them repeat it back to you.
2. Discuss what the definition means in more detail
The definition is usually one short sentence. This next step is to go into more detail, so they better understand. Again, remember to use words and phrases they will understand.
3. Use examples in everyday life
The next step is to use examples to bring home the message. I will typically use 2 examples: one that relates to karate and one that relates to home/school. If your child does not do karate, I would recommend that you use an example from something they are really in to (soccer, baseball, chess, video games, anything!).
4. Discuss why it is important
The final step is to discuss why this life skill is important. You have to remember to make it important to a kid. Many times, the importance comes down to things like not getting hurt, not getting in trouble, or having people not like you.
When I teach any life skill in my classes using this process, it always takes a month. The first week we discuss step 1, the second week steps 1 and 2, the third week steps 1, 2, and 3, and the final week steps 1-4. We only spend about 5 minutes each class on this process. So, if you are doing this at home, it only takes 5 minutes a couple times a week. My recommendation is to make it part of a routine:
- Before bed
- After breakfast or dinner
- In the car before or after an activity
- Make it part of homework time
The great news is…I have already done the hard work for you! All you need to do is take the time to implement it. Over the next 15 posts, I will be going over how to teach the following life skills to kids using the process outlined above.
I look forward to helping you out along the way!