Getting your kids involved in martial arts – the checklist

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A childhood without participating in an organised sport of some description seems utterly alien to most people. Almost all of us played on some team at some point in our respective childhoods, or participating in individual sports such as gymnastics, golf, skiing, or dance, just to name a few. If you’re a parent now you may even want to be getting your own child or children involved in sports, and if so, we’ve amassed a couple of things to consider before you sign your kid up for those lessons.

Firstly, be sure your child is interested.If this sounds like an obvious one, that’s because it is. Nevertheless it one that needs to be repeated over and over again. It’s not uncommon for parents to encourage their children to play the sports they played as children, even claiming the sport to be a family tradition, but one needs to remember that the popularity of sports waxes and wanes over time. What was popular when you were a child may no longer be in vogue, which can certainly weigh on the mind of a child. Talk to your children and ask them their opinion before you sign them up.

Keep in mind children’s attention spans. We’ve all had phases in life when we thought we were going to take up a new hobby—be it a new sport, learning a new language, painting, cooking, or skydiving—only to become immediately uninterested in the pastime. This happens as an adult and even more often to children. Before you buy them all the kit, be certain that they are not going to lose interest. Check local listings for sporting events in your area to which you can go with your children and gage their enthusiasm for what’s going on.

Try to share in the sport of your child’s choice. Obvious if you’re a bit overweight, somewhat lazy and disastrously inflexible, you’ll want not to participate in your child’s gymnastics course, but where possible try to be involved with them and practise together at every opportunity.

Be mindful of what you say when you’re talking to your child. One can never know what passing remark will scar a child for life. Saying something like ‘You’re the best, you’ll win for sure’ may sound reassuring to adults, but to a child it could sound like you’re putting pressure on then to win the competition. Try to encourage them to have a good time, to practise, and to enjoy playing the sport itself, more than actually winning it. Wanting to win comes naturally enough to almost everyone.

And lastly, be supportive. As obvious as the first one, and equally important. Children are sensitive, so when go to their matches or games or tournaments or whatever as often as you can and show them you’re having a good time too!