Self-discipline isn’t something that comes naturally to most children. No matter how hard you might try as a parent, you’ll find that actually teaching a child this skill requires a great deal of outside intervention. Martial arts have long been considered an excellent tool for helping children learn the confidence and discipline necessary for becoming successful adults. Understanding why is a matter of looking at exactly what a good martial arts education can teach a child and, ultimately, how these lessons can be applied to other areas of the child’s life.
A Note on Martial Arts
It’s perhaps a wise idea to start with what kind of setting best leads to the desired results. It’s not necessarily the sport itself that leads to a greater sense of discipline and self-worth, but also the environment in which the skills are taught. A good class that’s taught by a skilled teacher and full of dedicated peers is always the best place for a student to learn any type of skills. It’s not enough to know how to perform the actions taught – the student needs to absorb the lessons that come along with the physical teachings.
One great thing about this type of class is that children are taught the value of self-control. When most children are told to control themselves, they are given theoretical reasons to do so. Control means not getting in trouble, for example, or not getting on the nerves of an adult. When children train in a martial art, though, they’re getting immediate reasons why they need to control themselves. Self-control is the key to success, and failure to exercise it can lead to painful failures.
This is not to say that control can only be learned through sparring. What students will notice is that those who do what they’re told are those who advance the most quickly. They pay attention and are able to learn how to correctly execute specific skills, giving them an edge over those who refuse to participate correctly. Simply being able to see that controlling themselves actually leads to real results can wildly change a child’s point of view on the value of self-control. From here, your child should be able to see the value in applying those lessons to other parts of his or her life.
Learning About Self-Worth
Of course, discipline is only one benefit that a child can get from proper training. More than anything, children learn that they have worth when they go through these classes. They are able to see that if they try hard and do their best, they will succeed. They may not be the best in the class, but they will notice a slow and steady improvement that will, in turn, lead them to become more confident and more willing to keep trying. Learning a martial art is not just about learning how to fight or even how to do specific physical feats – it’s about learning how to get outside of one’s comfort zone and accomplish new things.
Understanding the arc of a typical student is very important if you’re trying to figure out why self-esteem is so often boosted by practicing a martial art. When a student starts, he or she has only his or her own basic athleticism on which to rely. No matter how well the student might do at other physical pursuits, he or she is at a severe disadvantage because the student simply doesn’t have the knowledge base to keep up with the rest of the class. This can be tough, but something very special happens over the course of a few lessons – the student begins to learn the basics and can see a path towards improvement.
The type of self-confidence gained from learning a martial art is the kind of self-confidence that can be applied to any other area of life. When a student can see that hard work actually leads to results, he or she is more likely to push forward and try harder in other areas of life. Knowing that he or she can accomplish a difficult task even when the odds seem insurmountable is a great thing for any child, and definitely something worth learning early on.
Learning Social Skills
Learning a martial art also encourages children to improve their social skills. Because classes are inherently social, students will be forced to spend time with people with whom they may not have a lot in common. They will, however, learn that they can find common ground based simply on their enthusiasm for their current class. This will teach students that they really can make friends with people so long as they are willing to find something they have in common.
Social skills also come from a tremendous amount of trust one has to place in a partner. Every martial art is physical, and there’s a certain level of trust inherent in learning any new skill. The students will have to work with others in order to master physical skills, and this means developing solid methods of communication to avoid getting hurt and to avoid confrontation. Students who are able to work with their partners are better able to master their skills and are able to get promoted more easily, showing that embracing social skills is absolutely worthwhile even for the shyest or least social of children.
If your child needs to learn self-control, confidence, and social skills, it may be a good idea to have him or she learn a martial art. While every class is different, the vast majority of classes focus on lessons that instill these qualities. Though every martial art is physical art, it’s often the mental lessons that stick with students for the long-run. Even if your child doesn’t choose to pursue lessons past the most basic levels, he or she will walk away learning quite a bit about how to interact with others and even more about his or her own self-worth.