Taekwondo is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your children. It’s not just about being physically fit, or about learning how to compete, but it helps to instill qualities that will be with them for their entire lives. You might think that very young children should not be exposed to martial arts, but in my opinion that is one of the best times for children to become acquainted with Taekwondo. Martial arts are not about kicking butt, but learning a way of life and conduct that helps to create children who are firmly grounded in the five core tenets of the discipline. These are:
- Indomitable spirit
These are the foundations of leaders and winners that the world needs now and in the future. Children need to understand that these are essential tools for living their lives, and at the same time children must also develop the self-confidence they need to go out into the world. They must form their own conceptions of themselves, and not try on the self-images being pushed by media, peers, and others. The effects of learning martial arts are documented by such institutions as West Point as key to building realistic confidence in oneself, in helping to reduce stress, and how to deal with negative emotions. Three key areas in which children desperately need guidance are in the areas of:
- Self-confidence: Being able to trust your own judgment and abilities.
- Self-discipline: The ability to discipline yourself and to pursue and acquire knowledge and skills in order to achieve one’s goals.
- Self-respect: Being able to feel pride in your conduct, and inability to respect your own decisions without second guessing.
You can’t always be there to protect your child. The concept of a helicopter parent who is there 24-7 is an unrealistic concept. Naturally, you want to exercise some control over who your child associates with, the situations that they will find themselves in, and to help them grow. To some extent, that requires letting go but in a controlled way. It is estimated that one in three children is or will be bullied or subjected to some other form of abuse. Even if the experience is fleeting, the effect can be devastating. Martial arts appears to help reduce not only the effects of bullying, but incidences of bullying in turn. It helps children deal in a positive way with negative emotions like fear, anger, and sadness.
I’m sure we can all think of some adults who could use these traits, too. Martial arts are not a hobby, they are discipline, a way of life, and a way of thought that bring about positive changes. Martial arts can help your child to develop the traits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Martial arts can help adults as well. If your child is interested in martial arts, come with them and learn with them, and grow together in strength and spirit.