Guest Post: 7 Reasons Your Child Should Not Be in Martial Arts Classes
Given that we have been working in such close proximity for over a year now, it’s amazing that we have never jumped off the 7 Reasons sofa and started scrapping with each other. Today, we had hoped to change that. Instead of the usual three-piece suit, we both came to work in white dressing gowns. It was time to karate chop each other. Unfortunately, martial arts teacher, Deborah Dera, took one look at us and said we were just too childlike to kick each other to pieces. So we took our dressing gowns off and went to have a sulk. In the meantime, we have left Deborah in charge of the sofa. And she has something to tell us.
I know that it is important for parents to find time for themselves. I know that it is important for children to remain active. What I don’t know is why some parents insist that their children are ready for activities that are either a) beyond their physical abilities or b) beyond their levels of comprehension.
That said, I’m constantly surprised (and sometimes amused) when parents bring their children in to our martial arts school and insist they sign up for classes. One look at your child tells me he’s not into it. Here are some of the things we see that you may not be hip to.
1. He’s Not Old Enough. A good martial arts instructor will not sign up children under a certain age. We do not accept children under the age of four in our school. Even at age four, we insist on a free trial class (no exceptions) so that WE can determine if your child is ready. Even still, we once had a mom lie and tell us that her child was four. He just barely made it through the trial class, so we thought maybe he’d be able to stick with the class. As time went on, it became painfully obvious he was not prepared to be in a social situation, let alone in a martial arts class. While his mother insisted he was four, she put his real birth date on the registration form. He was a very young three and a half.
2. He’s Crying. If you are pulling your child through the door while he cries and says he does not want to go in, your child may not be ready to be in a martial arts class. Ok, we get it. Some kids are shy. Those kids will stop crying after a day, maybe two or three – we had one kid who cried for two full weeks before he became the most popular kid in the class. Dragging your child through the door and insisting he cry through the class because you want him there makes no one happy – including us.
3. He Has No Concept Of Hygiene. We’re totally cool with kids needing to go to the bathroom during class. We also know that young children aren’t likely to wash their hands after going to the bathroom (thank goodness for hand sanitizer). What we don’t understand is why they look at us like we have three heads when we ask them to please, pretty please, cover their mouths when they sneeze and cough. I should not have to wipe fluids from my my arm, or face, or floor, after your child sneezes.
4. He Saw The Karate Kid Movies. I have bad news. The movies were cute (even the newest one) but we simply don’t teach the stuff your kid saw in the movies. Even worse? There will be no dramatic fight scenes on the walk home after class. That’s bound to get boring, right?
5. He Can’t Pay Attention. There is a difference between can’t and won’t. Kids who have problems won’t. Kids who simply aren’t developed enough on a mental or emotional level can’t. We don’t expect perfection but we shouldn’t have to spend an entire class finding ways to pull your kid back out of la-la land. Wait a few months and try again.
6. He Saw Kung Fu Panda. Seriously. A parent actually told me that his child wanted to take martial arts lessons because he saw Kung Fu Panda. This is worse than Karate Kid because – if you haven’t notice – it’s a cartoon. Combine this reason with the first one on the list (a three and a half year old still in diapers) and you’re in for a real treat.
7. You Have Unrealistic Goals. Please, please do not enroll your child in martial arts classes if you are not willing to give them time. Martial arts classes do help with discipline and self control, but it usually takes more than a week of classes to get the job done. The child with a history of hitting did not hit you the day after his first class because he learned how to do it in karate – he did it because he already has a history of lashing out physically. Get it?
Want to know the truth? I love ever little runny-nosed, screaming, crying kid who comes through the doors every week to check out our classes. They all bring something unique to the table. I just wish I didn’t have to turn so many away.
Deborah is a full time writer, martial artist, massage therapist, and student of life. She quit her job working with car insurance after 10 years so that she could focus on her passions – including sharing her love of the martial arts with both children and adults.