Going from Grade School into Middle School can be difficult for many children. This time in their lives is filled with changes, emotional and physical, that they may not fully understand. As they begin this transition it is critical that parents help maintain stability and focus in areas such as responsibility/focus, choices in friends, and family values/life skills. Getting an early teen child into a good martial arts program can help in all of these critical areas of their development.
The practice of martial arts helps teens “get focused” on success. As children enter their early teen years they are developing their sense of independence and self-determination. They are beginning to exercise the ability to make some larger decisions including when to do homework, when to go to bed, when they need to set an alarm, and other activities that allow them some measure of control over their lives. Being involved in a martial art can give them a positive support structure, a way of measuring their decisions that isn’t linked directly to parental approval. Being part of a group that contains positive role models, not simply “authority figures”, can have a profound impact on the types of choices a teen will make. As the child sees the types of choices that are being made, the actions being taken by older students and classmates, and the behavior being modeled around them, they will begin to emulate those that generate the most success. The teen will begin to take on traits that illustrate more responsibility and attention to the details of life that lead to success.
It is important to understand that not every group your teen can get involved with is as healthy as a good martial arts school. We all know that our children only “hear” about half of what we say; the rest is discarded as “noise” or “nagging”. Their friends, however, speak and they hear the entire message loud and clear. In many cases these friends come from a group of students in their educational school system that you have little control over. Even if they choose to participate in sports or afterschool groups, you still have little control over the type of people they choose to associate with daily. If you could help guide your child toward a better group of friends, would you do it? Your local martial arts schools are the perfect way to guide your child towards a better kind of friend. The martial arts school gives you, as a parent, the opportunity to observe your child’s friends and meet their parents. Getting to know the family behind your child’s friends is an important step in helping them find positive, supportive, healthy friends.
Finally, wouldn’t you like to find a healthy activity that also serves to reinforce your family values? While most sports only emphasize winning and physical skill, a good martial arts school will provide much more. Martial arts practice, and the people who call that school “home”, can help reinforce values such as honesty, respect, courtesy, justice, and any other value your family holds dear. Whether they call them Life Skills, Tenants, or Values, a good martial arts school will put development of these ideals at the core of what they teach. The entire school becomes a resource for you to pull from as you help your teen hold onto your family’s value system during this time of turmoil and change. Even if you have difficulty expressing particular ideas and giving your teen clear definitions for the values you are trying to teach, your martial arts school can help.
In today’s media-driven, violence-ridden world parents need all the help they can get. When it comes to raising teens and getting them set up right for success in life, there is no “right way”, no magic formula. Martial arts practice, and more importantly the martial arts school environment, can make a huge difference in a teen’s success or failure as they enter Middle School. By getting focused on the ideas and practices that breed responsibility and success, associating with a better, more positive group of friends, and finding reinforcement of your family’s values your teen will find the transition into adulthood much less traumatic. Get your teen involved in the martial arts and get them set up for success!