How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Integrity

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about integrity.  I started this series of life skills posts with integrity because I feel there is a serious lack of it in the world today.  You routinely see political figures, business leaders, and celebrities demonstrating a severe lack of integrity, usually just to continue to feed their own egos.

Unfortunately, kids are more influenced by television, social media, and peers than they are by parents or family members, so we have to work even harder to get the message across.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching

Let’s apply the process to integrity.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Integrity means “Doing the right thing even when it is difficult.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Doing the right thing is not always easy.  You may be the only one of your friends who does not want to partake in something you’re not supposed to do and will therefore be deemed “uncool”.  Sometimes doing the right thing means telling the truth when we did something wrong.  Telling a lie to get out of it may save you from getting in trouble but would not be the right thing to do.  If you get caught you will be in more trouble than before.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of integrity in karate: Your instructor asks you if you practiced your forms in preparation for the belt test coming up.  You lie and say you did even though you didn’t because you were the only one in class who forgot.  You should tell the truth and say you didn’t even though you might get in trouble or embarrassed.  In this case, the instructor would have taken those students who did not practice their forms and work with them separately to help them further.  Doing the right thing always results in a better outcome.
    • Example of integrity at school: Your teacher says before lunch that when you get back from lunch there will be a surprise test.  A fellow classmate at lunch comes up to you and says he has the answers to the test and offers them to you.  Should you take the answers and ace the test or decline them and possibly do poorly on the test and feel uncool around this classmate?  Cheating is never a good idea and people with integrity do not cheat.
    • Example of integrity with friends: You are in a large group of friends and everyone in the group except for you starts to pick on a kid from school that is walking by.  Your friends keep telling you to join in, but you don’t want to.  What should you do?  Standing up for others is very hard but is the right thing to do.  At the very least, do not partake in the bullying and leave to go do something else.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have integrity?  Doing the right thing can help someone else like in the example of standing up for a friend who is being bullied.  Despite the fact you may get into trouble for doing the right thing, you will always get into more trouble if you don’t do the right thing.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids self-control.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Self-Control

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about self-control.  Self-control is a difficult skill to acquire.  As babies, we learn quickly that when anything goes wrong, we just need to cry, and someone will help us.  As toddlers, we start learning other communication skills as well as physical coordination.  Not only does crying get attention, but now physical tantrums get us attention.  It is a difficult process to learn how to control our emotions and actions from babies to toddlers, to children, to teens, to adults.

Self-control is not letting actions reach a certain level

When kids don’t learn self-control as kids, they will experience a multitude of problems as adults.  We all know adults with self-control issues ranging from overeating and binge Netflix watching to more serious issues like drug/alcohol abuse or domestic violence.  Setting the stage for proper use of self-control early on is much easier than addressing the serious issues that emerge in adults with a lack of self-control.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Self-control is difficult for kids and adults

Let’s apply the process to self-control.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Self-Control means “Not letting your emotions or actions reach a certain level.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Emotional self-control means to stop yourself from overreacting.  Getting too angry and yelling/shouting or throwing a temper tantrum would be an example of not controlling your emotions.  If left uncontrolled, emotional self-control will typically lead to lack of physical self-control.
    • Physical self-control means to stop your body from doing a certain action.  Hitting someone or throwing an item at the wall are examples of not controlling your actions.
    • How do you know what levels are appropriate?  We need to listen to teachers, parents, and coaches.  They will tell you what the appropriate level of self-control is.  Parents will teach you the appropriate way to react to something.  Teachers will show you how to control yourself in order to be respectful to others.  Learning these different levels is a non-stop process.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of self-control in karate: you are practicing kicks with a partner.  Your partner is kicking much harder than you with better skill.  When it is your turn, you want to kick even harder than your partner because you are upset.  You try to kick so hard you end up hitting your partner right in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him.  This is an example of not having self-control.  Rather than letting the emotions control how hard you kick, take a deep breath and stay focused on doing the best you can, not comparing to someone else.
    • Example of self-control at school: the teacher is asking questions regarding some math problems.  You are really good at math.  She asks a really hard question and only you and one other student raise your hands, knowing the answer.  The teacher calls on the other student rather than you.  You are so frustrated that you just yell out the answer before the other student, who was called on, can answer.  This again shows a lack of self-control.  Rather than yelling out the answer, take pride in knowing you were one of two students who knew it.  Be patient, next time you might get called on.  Also, perhaps the other student gets it wrong, now you have a chance to answer.
    • Example of self-control at home: your mom is baking some delicious chocolate chip cookies.  She leaves the kitchen and tells you not to eat any because dinner is in 30 minutes.  You are so hungry because you did not have a snack after school.  If you give in and have a cookie, you will be showing a lack of self-control.  If you use self-control and resist eating a cookie before dinner, chances are your mom will let you have one after dinner.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have self-control?  For the most part, when we show a lack of self-control, someone will get hurt, either physically or emotionally.  If you emotionally hurt someone, they will be sad or angry.  Not only could we hurt someone else, but not having self-control could result in getting hurt ourselves.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
It takes constant practice and guidance to develop self-control

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids humility.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Humility

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about humility.  As with many of the life skills I have been writing about, not learning about humility as a kid results in an adult that arrogant and egotistical.  One challenge with teaching humility to kids is to ensure they remain confident in themselves and their abilities.  It is easy for kids to become reserved or lack pride in their achievements when attempting to remain humble.

Humility is an important skill for kids to learn

Another challenge in teaching kids about humility is the word itself.  Being humble or showing humility are not concepts or words commonly encountered by kids.  Caution should be used when first explaining this word as many kids will think humility is a part of humiliate or humiliation.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Let’s apply the process to humility.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Humility means “Confidently helping others without bragging or showing off.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Not bragging or showing off means when you do something well, you don’t want to rub it in other people’s faces.  Being proud of what you accomplished and even celebrating a little is perfectly fine as long as it does not make others feel bad.
    • When you are good at something and receive recognition for it, chances are there will be others that feel bad about it.  When you are in this situation, it is important to use your skills to help out those who are in need of help.  At the very least, be a good example of how to act so others have someone to look up to and aspire to be.
    • It is important to remember to remain confident in your abilities when holding back bragging or showing off.  Let your actions speak rather than your words and people will notice.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
It is important to not confuse being humble with lack of pride
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of humility in karate: you are at a karate tournament and get first place in sparring.  You don’t want to tell everyone “I knew I was going to win; I am the best one here.”  A better thing to do would be to congratulate all of the other competitors and tell them something they did well that you liked.
    • Example of humility at school: you got a test back from your teacher and got 100%.  The student next to you did not do so well.  You don’t tell that student “Wow, you did bad.  I would never do that bad.”  A better thing to do would be to tell that student that they will do better next time or offer them some help if they want it.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to show humility?  There are several reasons why we must remain humble.  For one, if we are bragging or showing off, other people will feel bad about themselves.  Another reason is when we act without humility, we aren’t the type of person people want to be around and will likely not have many friends.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Helping others is an important aspect of humility

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids concentration.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Concentration

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about concentration.  Kids are especially prone to a lack of concentration due mainly to the fact that they are kids.  They are still learning how the world works and everything is interesting.  Kids also lack self-control, discipline, and patience so when something is not immediately interesting, it is easy for them to lose concentration.  They have not yet learned about the long-term benefits of doing things that require prolonged bouts of concentration.  Everything to kids needs to have instant gratification.

Kids are prone to lacking concentration just by being kids

Concentration may be easier to understand than many of the other skills I have gone over but getting kids do it is a whole other story altogether.  It is important to note that concentration and focus get interchanged frequently.  I have separated them out and will talk exclusively about focus down the road.  There are some similarities and some of the concepts will overlap but they are in fact different and warrant different posts.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Let’s apply the process to concentration.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Concentration means “The ability to focus your mind on only one thing.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Concentrating requires you to focus your mind on only one thing
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Focus your eyes: the first step to being able to focus your mind on something is to focus your eyes on it.  If someone is speaking, be sure to look them in the eyes.  If you are reading, writing, or doing math problems, as soon as you look away with your eyes, your mind will start to wander, and you will lose concentration.
    • Limit distractions: some people have such incredible concentration that there can be an airplane taking off over their head and still not lose their focus.  However, most of us do not have this exceptional ability and therefore need to make a conscience effort to limit distractions when needing to concentrate on something.  Turn off the television when doing homework or reading.  Don’t sit next to your best friend in school who likes to talk all the time when the teacher is giving important information.  Put all toys and gadgets away when your parents are telling you something.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
When trying to concentrate, limit other distractions like television
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of concentration in karate: if you do not concentrate when doing karate, you may end up accidentally getting hurt or hurting someone else.  If you are attempting to break a board with an elbow strike and you weren’t concentrating on the instructions from the teacher, when it is your turn you may end up getting hurt from doing it incorrectly.
    • Example of concentration at school: it can be challenging to concentrate when at school since you are there all day and many of your friends are there.  Let’s say it is the end of the day and the teacher is giving out a homework assignment that is due the next day.  Your classmate next to you keeps talking to you and you lose your concentration on the teacher.  You miss the assignment, get a bad grade, and get in trouble with your parents.
    • Example of concentration at home: your mom is taking you to soccer practice.  In the car you are glued to your tablet playing a game.  She tells you that a different mom is going to be taking you home and you need to walk to her house which is right next to the practice field.  You were glued to your game and weren’t concentrating on what she was saying.  After practice, you wonder where your mom is.  You end up getting scared and worried until you eventually figure it out when the other mom comes and gets you.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
You miss key information when you are not concentrating
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have concentration?  If you are unable to concentrate on something you won’t get important information.  This could be safety instructions, so you don’t get hurt or things you need to learn from school in order to get smarter.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids self-discipline.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Self-Discipline

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about self-discipline.  While this post will focus on helping kids learn about self-discipline, many adults may find it useful as well.  Self-discipline is something most people struggle with regardless of age.  How many people struggle with obesity?  Overeating?  Smoking? Procrastination?  All of these can be overcome with self-discipline.

Being successful requires self-discipline

So why is it so difficult to have self-discipline?  Well, most of the things that require self-discipline are for our benefit but are also really hard or unpleasant or takes too much time.  Humans are not patient.  We generally take the path of least resistance that provides us with the most near-term pleasure with the least near-term pain.  We need to learn that long-term pleasure will last much longer even if it requires a little unpleasant action.  Once we start to do these things it gets easier.  Self-discipline is like a muscle; when we work on it consistently it gets stronger.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Let’s apply the process to self-discipline.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Self-discipline means “Doing something to improve ourselves even if we don’t want to.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Many good things come from having self-discipline
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Choose wisely: making wise decisions is the key to self-discipline.  It’s snack time, cookies or an apple?  Watch TV or read a book?  Sit on the couch or go for a walk?  Help kids make the right choices when they don’t know what they are.  Be a good example by making good choices yourself.               
    • Think before you act: most of the time we know what the correct choices are.  Even so, we often talk ourselves out of it.  All we think about is the delicious taste of the chocolate chip cookies.  We don’t think about the sugar crash, spoiling our dinner, or the potential for weight gain.  Before acting on something, be sure to think through all of consequences and benefits.  This will help in making good, healthy decisions.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of self-discipline in karate: giving your best effort when doing pushups.  They are challenging, they make us sore, and we hate doing them.  However, overcoming these things and trying our best to do good pushups will ultimately make us stronger and better at karate.
    • Example of self-discipline at school: your teacher asks the class to read quietly on their own for the next 15 minutes.  You do not enjoy the story the class is reading.  However, you really enjoy drawing.  Reading the story, the teacher asked you to read instead of drawing on a piece of paper under the book takes self-discipline.
    • Example of self-discipline at home: after dinner your dad tells you to go to your room and finish your homework.  In your room you have lots of toys and other things that are much more fun than homework.  Doing your homework rather than playing with your toys is an example of self-discipline.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
Being healthy is one of the many benefits of having self-discipline
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have self-discipline?  Having self-discipline makes us smarter and healthier.  Without self-discipline, you won’t be successful in life and will likely be unhappy and unhealthy.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids respect.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Respect

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about respect.  As I’ve mentioned in many previous posts, kids pick things up from their surroundings.  Typically, kids who are disrespectful have either not been taught respect or are surrounded by others who are disrespectful.  We all need to remember this when we are with are kids and something happens that tests our understanding of respect such as, we get cutoff in traffic, Starbucks gets our order wrong, someone calls you a name or has choice words for you, etc.

Teaching kids how to be respectful will help them be respectful adults

Martial arts begin and end with respect.  There are many ways in which martial arts teaches kids about respect and I will cover those later.  The way in which respect is taught in martial arts directly applies to everyday life.  Being on time, keeping yourself and surroundings clean, and treating others with courteous are things that are lacking in kids and adults alike these days.

It should be noted that there is a difference between respect and obedience.  Often times, parents and teachers feel kids are respecting them when actually they are just being obedient.  Obedience is not a bad thing although it needs to be understood that it comes from a position of fear.  Fear of getting in trouble for instance.  Adults tend to think respect is owed to them due to position, experience, etc.

Respect, rather than obedience, needs to be genuine.  You can’t force someone to respect you.  It needs to be earned rather than expected or demanded.  Leaders command respect rather than demand respect.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

There are several ways to show respect in karate but bowing is the most prominent

Let’s apply the process to respect.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Respect means “Being thoughtful, courteous, and showing regard for yourself, others, and things.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Golden rule: when working with children about respect, I often bring up the golden rule: treat others that way you want to be treated.  This rule is essentially another definition of respect.  If you are having a hard time figuring out how to show respect to someone, just think about how you would want that person to act towards you.
    • People/Things/Self: respect applies to everything.  We need to respect other people by treating them the way we want to be treated.  We need to respect things by taking good care of them and using them for their intended purpose.  We also need to respect ourselves by not saying mean things to ourselves like “I am so dumb” or “I am ugly”.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of respect in karate: we could spend all day talking about examples of respect in karate.  We show respect to the instructor by bowing to him/her and saying yes sir or yes ma’am.  We respect our classmates by being courteous to them, using control, and being on time to class.  We show respect to ourselves by keeping our uniform clean and using it only for karate.
    • Example of respect at school: there are many examples of respect at school that are similar to karate.  Refer to your teacher by Mr./Mrs.  Raise your hand to speak in class rather than yelling out.  Being courteous and nice to the other students in class.
    • Example of respect at home: respect your parents and older siblings by listening to them and doing as they ask because they know what’s best for you.  Be respectful to younger siblings by being patient and showing them the correct ways to do things.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have respect?  Respect is a 2-way street.  If you do not show respect to others, they will not respect you.  If you do not take care of things, toys, animals, they will not be around anymore.  If we are not respectful to other kids, we won’t have any friends.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Respect is a 2-way street; you cannot expect or demand it

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids perseverance.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Perseverance

In this post I will be going over how to teach kids about perseverance.  Perseverance is an essential ingredient for success.  People that quit everything do not get very far in life.  Setting goals is an important thing to do but without perseverance you will never reach those goals.

Perseverance is an essential skill to have in order to be successful

A karate black belt is just a white belt who never gave up.  There will be tough times along your journey in accomplishing any goal you set.  Pushing through these challenges takes perseverance.  If getting a black belt was easy, everyone who started would have one.  In actuality, less than 5% of students who start karate reach the rank of black belt.  I can guarantee that 5% have learned perseverance.

As with most, if not all, of the skills I have gone over in this series, perseverance is a skill that is taught and learned, not something you are born with.  It takes practice and encouragement.  It also takes support from those around you.  Being surrounded by people who demonstrate perseverance will go a long way in instilling this skill in young kids.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

In a nutshell, having perseverance means never giving up

Let’s apply the process to perseverance.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Perseverance means “Not giving up, even when facing difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Don’t quit/Encourage: in a nutshell, perseverance means to not quit.  Easier said than done, right?  We can all help one another develop perseverance by keeping each other accountable and not letting them quit.  To help someone not quit, we need to use positive encouragement. Tell them why they should not quit.  Give them an example of someone who was in the same situation who did not give up.  Parents, teachers, and family members can have a tremendous impact on improving perseverance in the kids around them.
    • Difficulties/Obstacles/Discouragement: difficulties are challenges that we face when trying to do something.  Obstacles are things that get in our way when working towards a goal.  Discouragement is when someone tells us something that makes us feel bad about ourselves and makes us want to quit.  Any one of these things may make us want to quit but having perseverance will get you through it.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of perseverance in karate: karate is filled with examples of perseverance.  Each class is physically challenging.  The instructor asks you to do things that are difficult and might not be able to do well.  After class your muscles will ache, and you will be tired.  By continuing to attend class, you will get stronger and better, but you need perseverance to get through the aches and pains that come with training.
    • Example of perseverance at school: as with karate, academic school is also filled with examples of perseverance.  When you take a test and get a poor grade you have the opportunity to demonstrate perseverance.  Do you give up altogether or do you study harder so the next time you get a better grade?
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have perseverance?  Without perseverance, you won’t be successful in life.  If you quit everything you do you will never be good at anything.  
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Without perseverance, things like traveling to Mars could never be possible

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids patience.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Patience

We currently live in a society of instant gratification.  We have a question that needs answering we search the internet from our computers or smart phones.  We need to buy something; Amazon can send it to us the same day.  We need to get a hold of someone, we can call them on their cell phone day or night, from anywhere in the world.

Patience is challenging in our instant gratification society

Technology has certainly made our lives easier but at the cost of patience.  We now expect things to happen quickly and get agitated when they don’t.  As adults we try to instill patience in our kids but often lack it ourselves.

When things don’t go the way we want them to, it is easy to react with anger.  This is the gut reaction for most people and is the result of not thinking things all the way through.  In most situations, anger will only cause the situation to be worse.  Taking the time to understand the situation and react with compassion and understanding is the cornerstone of patience.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

There is a lot more to being patient than just waiting

Let’s apply the process to patience.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Perseverance means “Not being in a hurry. Taking the time to understand something before reacting.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Take 3 deep breaths: when something happens that tests our patience, we tend to react quickly without thinking.  We let our emotions control the situation.  One great strategy to use when you find yourself feeling impatient and upset is to take 3 slow, deep breaths.  This has all calming effect on the body and allows you to think more clearly about the situation.
    • Think about how it affects others: when we find ourselves in a situation that requires patience, we often think only about ourselves.  There is something we want, and we want it right now.  When this is the case, we usually don’t think about how our actions affect other people around us.  There could be a very understandable reason for the situation causing our impatience.
    • When you are impatient you don’t get what you want: when we want something really, really badly we always want it right this minute.  If we don’t get it right away, we get impatient and angry.  When this happens, the people that are responsible for us not getting something immediately will get angry and might cause us to not get it at all.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of patience in karate: earning a black belt is one thing in karate that requires patience.  There is not a fast track or speedy way to do it.  Earning a black belt will likely take 5 or more years of consistent, dedicated training.  There will be times when you will need to practice the same thing over and over again while other students get to move on to new things.  It will require patience to overcome these times in your training.  Trust that your instructor has a plan for your progress and is helping you reach your goals.
    • Example of patience at home: you just got a brand-new video game and want to play it all the time.  You mom tells you that you can play it but only after you finish your homework.  You can’t wait and want to play right now.  You throw a fit, your mom gets angry and says now you can’t play the game at all.  If you had just showed some patience, you would have been able to play the game.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have patience?  When you are patient you will usually get what you want, you just need to wait.  When you are impatient, other people get upset and you could get into trouble.  Most likely, when you are impatient you will not get what you wanted at all.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Taking 3 slow, deep breaths will help in remaining patience

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids responsibility.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Responsibility

With great power comes great responsibility.  Well said Spiderman.  Great leaders also have a strong sense of responsibility.  Being responsible is hard.  We all think being responsible is being a person that can be counted on to follow through on things.  While this is true, there is much more to it.  

I feel most people are relatively good at doing what other people count on us to do like taking care of our families, doing our jobs to the best of our abilities, and caring for our pets.  We also have to remember that being responsible not alone means doing things people count on us to do but also doing what is right.

For example, you see someone getting bullied at school.  It is your responsibility to help them.  Tell a teacher, tell an adult, or even step in yourself if you feel up to it.  If you see a crime being committed, it is your responsibility to report it to the police or find someone else who can.  It is our responsibility to be good, upstanding citizens that care about each other.

Responsibility means doing what others count on us to do

Another part of responsibility we could all use some work on is owning our mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  Taking responsibility for your mistakes will help you learn from them and will tell others that you will do your best to improve and not repeat them.  Simply saying “I’m sorry” goes a long way.  How many of our political leaders take responsibility for their mistakes?  Not many, if any.  As parents we need to set a better example of taking responsibility for our mistakes.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Let’s apply the process to responsibility.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Responsibility means “Doing things others count on you to do and accepting blame when making mistakes.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • More responsibility, more success: if someone asks you to do something and you do it to the best of your ability, it is likely you will be asked to do more.  If every time someone asks you to do something you never do it, or you do it poorly, eventually you will stop being asked.  Successful people like doctors, business owners, and engineers have a lot of responsibilities.
    • Making mistakes: we all make mistakes.  When we do make them, it is important not to hide from them.  Admit them.  Say you’re sorry.  Taking responsibility for your mistakes will help you learn from them and will allow others to maintain trust in you.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of responsibility in karate: there are many examples of responsibility in karate classes.  The instructor has the responsibility of teaching the students to the best of their ability.  The students have the responsibility to listen and try their best at all times.
    • Example of responsibility at home: some examples of responsibilities at home could be brushing your teeth, cleaning your room, doing your homework, taking out the trash, or anything else your parents expect you to do on your own without being told to do so.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to be responsible?  Being responsible is important because other people will count on you to do things in order to help them.  At some point, you will need someone to do something for you and will likely seek out a responsible person to help you.  If you are not responsible, others will not trust you.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Spiderman knows all about responsibility

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids focus.

How to Teach Kids Life Skills – Focus

We live in a world filled with distractions.  Television, internet, cell phones, apps, games, tablets, and the list can go on and on.  When was the last time you just did one thing at a time?  

You can’t be focused when you multi-task

As adults we are trained that being a multi-tasker is an essential skill.  However, we try to teach our kids that they need to focus.  Once we become adults do, we magically have the ability to apply focus to many things at once?

While as adults we certainly have much more on our plates, we still need to focus.  Helping kids learn focus can be as simple as being a good example.  Put down the cell phone.  Turn off the television.  If you are spending time with your kids, do just that.  Don’t try to answer emails while doing it.

Learning the ability to focus will serve kids well in their futures.  Kids who can focus are more successful in academics, sports, music, and relationships.  It is an essential skill needed to be successful in life.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Kids who learn to focus will be more successful later in life

Let’s apply the process to focus.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Focus means “The ability to concentrate your efforts on one thing.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Focus your eyes: in order to focus on something, you must look at it.  Don’t let your eyes wander or look down at the ground.  If someone is speaking, look them in the eyes.
    • Focus your mind: in order to focus on something, you must be thinking about it.  If someone is speaking, actively think about what they are saying.  Don’t think about what you want to say.  Don’t think about video games or something else you plan on doing later in the day.
    • Focus your body: in order to remain focused, you must have a still body.  Sit or stand with good, attentive posture.  Don’t fidget with your hands and feet.  Don’t play with objects that may be in front of you.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of focus in karate: the instructor is telling you how to do a complex technique.  While he is explaining, you are thinking about the birthday party you are going to tomorrow.  You now have to do the technique with your partner.  You were not focused and don’t know all the important instructions regarding how to be safe while doing it.  You try to do the technique and end up injuring your partner on accident.
    • Example of focus in life: many people try to do other things while driving like texting, phone calls, and playing music.  This is a major source of car accidents that seriously injure many people.  It is important while driving to focus only on that task.
    • Example of focus at school:  at the end of the school day, your teacher tells you that there will be a test tomorrow and gives you details on what to study.  You were talking to your friend in the desk next to you and did not hear the teacher.  The next day you and your friend both fail the test and get in trouble with the teacher and with their parents when they get home.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have focus?  If you can’t focus on something, you will never learn.  If someone is telling you something and you are not focused you might miss important details.  You must focus on everything you do in order to be successful in life.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Limit distractions like television and video games when trying to focus

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids confidence.