Young children’s life management skills boil down to a pretty simple concept…Instant Gratification. This is because children are caught up in the moment. They are so into doing what they are doing, that nothing else seems to matter or even exist.
If left to their own reasoning, they will choose to do only those things that are fun or that interest them. On the other hand, we as adults know that other things exist and matter. We have learned that we can’t use the instant gratification gauge of “fun” or “boring” to determine the path of our lives, although some have.
I want to share a story about two adults I know personally, who trained with me as children. The first one had a parent that helped him plan his life. Helped mold the direction he was taking, in terms of the importance of school work, being involved in youth groups and other activities that promoted character development. He also lived in a very harsh neighbourhood where it would have been easy to follow in the footsteps of his peers.
Did he always want to do his homework or stop playing with friends to go to more structured activities? No! This man’s name is Fixton and he earned his second degree Black Belt and was an instructor with us for a while. Today, Fixton has fulfilled his life goal of becoming a police officer and now works in his old neighbourhood.
The second one I will call Bob. Bob always wanted to do things that were fun and would put up a fuss if he didn’t get his own way. Eventually he “wore down” his parents until they were tired of fighting with him. Bob preferred to hang out with his friends and always had extra time on his hands. He and his buddies liked to clown around and found that school was not as much fun as hanging around the streets.
These two men are about the same age. Fixton is living his dream, although it took him 7 years of constant determination to get there. He is excited about life and his role as someone who helps protect the people in his community. Bob, unfortunately has found himself on the wrong side of the law a few times and is struggling to maintain a minimum wage job.
As concerned parents, we must view things differently to put the child’s desires into perspective and to see the long-term consequences. It is part of our job to not only teach our children to think and plan ahead, but to do everything in our power to keep them focused, active and productive.
Parents can do everything right and it doesn’t mean they will have the “perfect child”. However, the “perfect child” seldom comes from parents who don’t nurture, guide and lead them, even force them to do what is in the child’s best long-term interest.
During every Black Belt testing cycle we perform there is at least one or two children who, after receiving their Black Belt, will talk about a time when they wanted to quit. These same children will always thank their parents for their constant encouragement and not allowing them to give up on their goal.
There will be a time when your child won’t want to stop what he/she is doing to go to karate, but has a good time once in class. You may catch yourself wondering if you are doing the right thing. When that happens, ask yourself, “Which activity will be in the long term best interest of my child?” “Which will help develop character and improve success skills?” Once you answer these questions, rest assured that you will make the right decision.