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Self-esteem develops over time.

And if it's low, it can be raised. Here are some things parents can do:

Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. Martial Arts is one of the best sports in which you can enroll your child because they will be learning all the time while having fun. Learning basics, the proper way to exercise, traditional martial arts kata and self defense are all skills that increase competence. Competence increases confidence and self-esteem.

When coaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. Then let them do what they can, even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child has lots of opportunities to learn, try, and feel proud. Don't make new challenges too easy -- or too hard. Holding pads too high for them to reach may seem funny, but can also lead them to believe that they are not talented.

Praise your child, but do it wisely. Of course, it's good to praise kids. You praise is a way to show that you are proud, too. But research shows that some ways of praising kids can actually backfire. At our school, we use a technique called a praise sandwich. We praise effort, make a correction and praise improvement after the child practices more.

Here's how to do it right:

Avoid over-praising. Praise that doesn't feel earned doesn't ring true. For example, telling a child he kicked almost straight up when he know he didn't feels hollow and fake. It's better to say, "I know that was a tough class, but we all have off days. I'm proud of you for not giving up." Add a vote of confidence, "Tomorrow, you'll be back on your game."

Praise effort rather than fixed qualities.  Avoid focusing praise on results such as doing the best in class or fixed qualities such as being smart or athletic. This kind of praise can lead kids to avoid challenges that may threaten the good "reputation" they get praised for the most.

Instead, offer most of your praise for effort, progress, and attitude. For example: "You're working hard on that split," or "You're getting better and better at these combinations," or, "I'm proud of you for practicing and going to classes -- you've really stuck with it." This kind of praise encourages kids to put effort into things, work toward goals, and try.  When kids do that, they are more likely to succeed.

Be a good role model.  When you put effort into everyday tasks (like raking the leaves, making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you are setting a good example.  Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning up toys, or doing great stances!

Modeling the right attitude counts, too!  If you train in martial arts along with your child, get excited about the classes (or at least do them without grumbling or complaining), you teach your child to do the same.

Ban harsh criticism. The messages kids hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves.  Harsh words ("You're so lazy") are harmful, not motivating. When kids absorb negative messages about themselves, they feel bad about themselves, and act accordingly.

Focus on strengths.  Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has opportunities to develop these strengths. Nurturing strengths is better than focusing on weaknesses if you want to help kids feel good about themselves and succeed. All students progress at different rates at different points in their martial arts journey. It's not a belt race - it's all about becoming a black belt over time not "getting" a black belt. --



03/23/2017 11:07am

These are very good and valuable tips for parents. It will enable them to build up their children's self esteem and motivate them to become better kids. This is essential for a child's growth and thinking. Parents should be able to build up their child's mind by encouraging them to be better and also by accepting their mistakes. I can attest to this way of teaching children, as I've seen it work from my relatives and friends.

As parents, you are responsible for your childs personality and attitude. I believe that when they are born, they are a blank slate. You are the first person who will put a writing on that slate. That is why early years is very crucial for kids. It will be a huge part of their personality in the future.

06/29/2017 2:45am

I love the idea of the praise sandwich. It keeps the child motivated while still being open for improvements. Also, by giving them corrections on the things they did, you are able to guide them to a better position while still letting them do their own thing. This puts their problem solving abilities to use as well. Another thing I want to add here is that at an early age, we need to teach kids that failure is part of the process. They should not give up easily as it will only lower their self-esteem more.

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