A child’s confidence can be a very fragile thing. It takes a very long time to build up, but only moments to completely break down. If you have a child that’s dealing with poor self-esteem or bullying, you might be frantically searching for a way to build your child back up before despair can talk hold. While there are many viable solutions out there, there’s one tried-and-true method that has helped many children who might be in a situation like your own. When it comes to making a child more confident, nothing seems to have as much of an impact as taking up the martial arts.
The first thing that any parent should know about martial arts is that they are not inherently about fighting or violence. While they certainly involve fighting and techniques that can be used in fights, the vast majority of classes teach restraint and self-control. These are skills meant to be used entirely within the classroom and in competition, skills that are more akin to what one would learn in any other sport than those about which parents should have misgivings. Children who participate in a martial art are no more likely to get in fights than any others, but they are more likely to exercise the self-control that they are taught while in class.
If fighting’s not the point, you might wonder exactly why your child might take a martial art. For most, it’s primarily about learning how to have control over one’s own body and mind. Excelling in any martial art requires a child to learn how to follow directions, replicate instructions precisely, and follow through in a manner that will lead to direct results. For most children, simply being taught that they have the ability to see something and then to accomplish the same task can be incredibly rewarding.
There’s also the life skills that are taught in these classes to consider. These arts require a great deal of not only external instruction but also internal motivation. Those students who excel do so because they try harder and work towards goals. Being able to see that one’s ambition is rewarded can make a huge difference for a child who is grappling with issues of self-doubt while having an external reward for self-discipline can be very useful for those students who have difficulty accepting the fact that following a code of behavior can actually lead to worthwhile results.
There are physical results to practicing a martial, of course. Students who come into their first lesson and feel uncomfortable with their bodies will soon see the benefits of attending regular lessons. It’s not just about getting into shape, though most techniques do help to improve a child’s muscle tone and cardiovascular help. In many cases, it’s about allowing the child to see his or her body as something that is useful and worthwhile. In a world where positive body image is so hard to come by, these techniques can really help children who are in dark places.
For children who deal with bullying, it’s hard not to see why the physical activity builds up confidence. When a child knows that he or she has the ability to protect himself or herself, something special happens. It’s not that the child chooses to engage in fights or in other types of violence, but rather that the child becomes less afraid of those would bully him or her. For many, there’s a moment of realization that occurs when he or she realizes that even the worst bully has very little ability to actually case him or her real pain.
An instructor also helps to build up a child’s confidence in a way that precludes violence. He or she is taught to practice the techniques as a way of building a person up, not tearing another person down. Instead of being a sport that is defined by trying to hurt people, these arts are defined by self-improvement. When dealing with a bully, then, most students are able to look past the initial moments of conflict and pain and are able to use the lessons that they’ve learned to extricate themselves from the situation without ever having to lay a hand on the other party.
Finally, a good martial art helps a child to become part of a community. The early stages of most lessons involve a student being part of a much larger group, full of students who are on or near their own level. If they have trouble with a technique, they can count on more experienced classmates to help them. If they can excel, they’ll be expected to do the same for others who aren’t quite on the same level. It’s a great way to help a lonely child feel like he or she is part of something bigger.
This community aspect also gives a child the motivation to do better. Achieving a new rank isn’t just about pride, it’s about advancing one’s place in the overall community. Becoming more successful should always lead to more responsibility, so children are given the ability to gain new skills that they can then use to help others. Being thrust into this kind of leadership role can absolutely work wonders for those who suffer from poor self-esteem or for those who just don’t think that they have anything worthwhile to contribute to the world at large.
If you have a child that you feel isn’t confident or doesn’t value himself or herself enough, enrolling in a martial art may be the best thing that he or she can do. It will build him or her up both physically and mentally and will allow your child to become part of a larger group. Though not everyone will excel in the physical aspects of these lessons, every child who takes up martial art is given the chance to learn valuable social and emotional lessons. It is often these lessons that lead to the greatest amount of change in those who truly need the most help.