Being a great Karate, or Krav Maga, parent is a key to your child's success. For your child to derive the maximum benefit from his or her training you will have to invest a little time and effort, but that's what parenting is all about.
As we mentioned earlier the steps are as follows:
• Talk to your child and understand their needs. Decide what you want to gain from the training; fitness, discipline and focus, goal setting, social skills, respect for authority, self confidence etc.
• Choose the best school for your child
• Make a long term commitment to the training.
• The key to being a great karate parent is: "Follow up", this is the subject of this article, so read on.
Over my many years of teaching children, I have been teaching since 1993, I have encountered many types of karate parents, let's take a look;
• The Absentee Karate Parent
Some instructors love this kind of parent. You will almost never see or hear from them. They may show up for registration or just send checks with the kid. They never call to discuss their child with you; they never show up to watch a class, a test, or special event. They will never offer any feedback. This benefits neither the parent nor the instructor. Each has an incomplete picture of the student's life.
• The Phone Call Karate Parent
This parent you may also never meet but they will call if there is a problem. Sometimes it may be a problem directly related to the training, sometimes not at all related. (My kid refuses to eat the cereal I bought for her, talk to her, you are the Krav Maga instructor, she respects you. Or, my kid won't go to bed on time, what should I do?)
The advantage of this kind of parent is the instructor hears about a problem before the child quits training, there is still time to solve the problem and prevent the child from dropping out and losing out on all the great benefits of martial arts. Even with regard to problems outside of training, a caring teacher should take an interest.
• The Compliment Parent
This kind of parent will almost never call or visit but if you happen to bump into them they will tell you how much their child loves the training and is gaining so much from it.
• The Spineless Parent
This kind of parent will take no direct interest, never show up to watch a class and never really encourage her child to make an effort. The child joins because the child wants to, and as soon as the child loses interest (happens to all of us from time to time), the parent will call up and say, "What can I do, he no longer wants to go to karate, I can't force him."
I had one parent whose child had been very enthusiastic and was making wonderful progress when suddenly he stopped showing up. The mother called up and said, "There is a cartoon on TV the same time as your karate lesson. What can I do, he won't give up the cartoon."
Actually there was a great deal she could have done. She could have explained to her son that karate is more important than cartoons. She could have recorded the show so he could watch it later; she could have used all sorts of incentives.
Encouragement from the parents makes a huge difference.
• The Involved Parent
This kind of parent believes in the benefits of martial arts training and is therefore your greatest ally. They will do everything possible to keep the child/teenager in training. When things go bad and the child is depressed, the Involved Parent will remind the child of the great benefits of training. When the child is tempted to give in to social pressure and give up his or her training, this parent will talk to the child and strengthen their resolve to keep training. This parent will update the instructor on how the child is doing so that together, parent and instructor can work for the child's benefit.
Give the Teacher a Tip
Not the financial kind. If the child has a particular fear or is sensitive about certain things, it would benefit the instructor to know this. Understanding the child's personality will help the instructor work with them.
Protective Gear For Kids
Some parents sign up their kids for lessons and then believe there will be no further expenses. Most martial arts require equipment. You will need to be uniforms, belts, and depending on the style; protective equipment. I buy my equipment from Asian World of Martial Arts as well as from Century. In Israel I buy equipment from Bash Gal.
One final tip: Read. I send home a newsletter each month. I try to educate the parents as to what their children are doing as well as some background on the martial arts. I have a special section where I list special accomplishments, new ranks, "Kick of the month" as well as attendance. If your school has a newsletter, read it. If not you are certainly welcome to sign up for mine, it is free. The more you read the more you will be a part of your child's journey.