Parents everywhere want their children to achieve success. This is usually defined by fulfilling societal norms, whether in terms of grades, athletic abilities, or something else. And the push to accomplish these things first is putting pressure on children and parents as well. Comparisons are fueling the expectation for children to develop at a specific rate and master skills at a certain time. Unfortunately, this is causing stress and decreasing children’s self-esteem. Instead, we should celebrate each child’s uniqueness and nurture their individuality by allowing them time to grow into the best version of themselves.
What often gets forgotten is that every child is different. Children have different temperaments, strengths, personalities, and vulnerabilities; therefore, their development will vary. During these stages, it is normal that children might be a little ahead of their peers in some areas and not in others. The problem is that parents often feel under pressure to parent the “right” way to avoid judgment from others. This causes them to push their children in ways that may not necessarily be the best for that child. The constant prodding to not fall behind is counterintuitive to a child achieving the most success. As Bansky, a street artist, said, “A lot of parents will do anything for their kids except let them be themselves.”
It’s no doubt, parents want their children to do their best, but often “their best” is someone else’s best. The expectations that are put on children frequently become unreasonable and creates more anxiety than motivation. This is usually because parents get so caught up in planning their child’s future career that they don’t allow time for natural talents to develop independently. And while reaching developmental milestones is important, there will still be variations from child to child. However, given the correct nurturing and stimulation, children will catch up, as needed, and go on to achieve great things that are unique to themselves.
There are many programs available to children that can enrich children’s skill development in an area. However, the Gentle East Martial Arts Program offers a curriculum that develops the child physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Classes are age-specific, and techniques are implemented so that children can reach age-appropriate goals but also have the chance to advance to higher levels quicker. This individual-based approach allows for all children to feel successful and develop their abilities at their own pace. In addition, the game-based learning approach makes classes fun and engaging, which not only takes the pressure off but allows children to feel proud of their accomplishments.
We must remember to slow down and meet children where they are in their personal growth. By appreciating each child’s uniqueness, we can nurture their individual development, which will create more motivation in them. This will increase their confidence and help them achieve more remarkable successes. Keep in mind, “Every child is gifted. They just unwrap their packages at different times.” (Michael Carr)
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Author: Jennifer Salama of Skillz Worldwide. Edited by Master Eric Rangel-Ribeiro
Jennifer is a 4th-degree black belt and has been training in martial arts since 2001. She has a Master’s Degree in Child Psychology and has embraced the SKILLZ curriculum because of its focus on child development and using martial arts as a vehicle to develop the child as a whole.