What should you do when your child says they don’t want to come to their martial arts class. I know how it feels as I have been there with both my children multiple times, yet you can now see them on the mats teaching martial arts every week.
It’s likely that every parent at our club has heard this a few times. I often listen to parents complaining they are so frustrated with their children because they are such a pain about coming to class at times.
It’s not that they don’t like it when they get here - they always have a smile on their face during class & when it’s over and they always feel like they have accomplished something while they are here. So why all the resistance? Don’t they not realise how great martial arts is for them?
Think about it from the child’s point of view: I have been told what to do all day at school. When I get home I just want to go on my iPad/Xbox/Playstation [delete as applicable] and let my mind go where it wants to go & just chill.
Children live in the moment. They don’t think about next week, next month or next year. All they see is I am having fun here and now on my console blowing stuff up with my friends, so why should I get up and do something else? Especially if I am having problems with my form or sparring! Why work on it? Why get better? I am comfortable and having fun here and now. For the next 5 minutes (which will turn into hours, of course) I am going to sit here and be a slave to my impulses as well as the instant gratification I am getting sitting here. If they are actually outside playing with their friends - Why stop playing with them to go somewhere else? It is the same emotional reaction.
As parents, while we can understand this feeling, we also know it is not what is best for them. It is our job to think for the long term and see past the next 5 minutes, hours, days or years. The adult perspective may well be ‘I don’t want to deal with this right now’ but the parent perspective should be ‘Get in the car & let’s go to martial arts’
We know it is hard at times, but in the long run we know children love it once they get to class. It doesn’t matter what their mood is when they come through the door - what matters is how they feel when they leave. As long as they leave in good spirits & have done their best on the mats, we know they still love it.
We can see, based on effort in class, when it is time to call it a day and, we promise you, if we ever see something that makes us believe they really don’t like it, we will let you know and we will be done. Why? We would rather pull the plug early so there is chance that they will come back in the future than for it to become such a negative experience they will never even think of doing martial arts again.