Articles - Tough Talk

Tough Talk for Parents

by Mr. Levitz

Congratulations on joining the Karate Dojo. Good attendance teaches character, self discipline and the skills necessary to be successful not only in Karate, but in life. Today your child is excited about coming to the Dojo, as they will be on most occasions. Please bottle this for the days they do not feel like coming. That is right: I said, “Sometimes they won’t feel like it.” How you handle these occasions will determine their success in Karate. More than that, it will determine the lessons you are teaching about commitment, and influence their behavior with all future obligations.

If I am preaching to the choir, please forgive me, but sometimes the choir needs preaching, too. Some parents tell me, “Johnny doesn’t feel like coming in to class.” Do you let Johnny decide if he brushes his teeth, goes to school, eats his vegetables? If they learn that coming to class especially on their anchor day is non-negotiable, they will stop arguing, just like they stop arguing about other things we make non-negotiable. Some parents say, “I don’t want to push them.” Pushing them is your job. Everyone, including children, can be lazy. It is not usually that they are unhappy in class; it is usually that they are tired, or playing with friends, or watching TV, or busy with sports, and don’t want to stop what they are currently doing. I do have to mention that seasonal activities that only last 3 months do not teach the same kind of commitment that Karate as a year round study does.

Let’s say you don’t push them. They have missed a few weeks and feel lost and embarrassed. Now when its time for karate class, they will fight you a lot. If you bring them back in to the Dojo, the instructor will catch them back up and excite them again. If you don’t bring them back in, what have you taught them about commitment, or what it takes to be successful? This is now how they will handle future commitments. Your child is not too young to learn about honoring commitments; this is when people learn.

In the rare cases when a student is consistently not interested during class, speak to the instructor for help. If we can’t fix it, at the end of the contract don’t renew. Karate is not for everyone. You will have taught your child an important lesson about commitment, and perseverance. You and your child can say goodbye with a smile and be welcome in the future.

Karate class is disciplined. Coming to class requires discipline. Punishing your child by not letting them come to class in an effort to teach discipline does not make sense. If you want to punish, remove things which are bad for your child that they enjoy, like TV or dessert. A better approach is to tell your child, “You’re going to class on your anchor day, and if your behavior improves you can go on other days as well.” We welcome you to discuss these issues with us.

Parents don’t necessarily like being given advice, yet children don’t come with instruction manuals. I know these are delicate issues, yet what kind of teacher would I be if I did not tell you these important things? Take advantage of our experience. We have worked with hundreds of families and will help you as much and in as many ways as we can.


Best Wishes, Mr. Levitz