Children’s challenging behaviors have long been the focus of adults’ pessimistic viewpoint of characteristics that don’t fit the mold of societal expectations. This rigid “deficit thinking” causes parents to complain about their child’s qualities and make them try to “fix” what is wrong or make excuses as to why they can’t do certain things. However, these assumptions don’t help children but hinder them and cause low self-esteem and self-efficacy. As they say, “We are what we think we are.” Instead, adults should reframe how they view a child’s weakness or misbehavior and raise the ceiling for them.
Children are criticized daily for their undesirable behaviors. Labels such as overly sensitive, hyperactive, impatient, defiant, etc., are automatically assigned to children when they exhibit actions outside of what is considered “good.” Adults feel that they should address these things immediately to ensure that future success isn’t impeded. But in adults’ pursuit to be good teachers, parents, and coaches, they forget that the child should be the focus. However, the goal should be to understand the child and shift to strength-based thinking to build children up based on their personalities instead of making them fit into what’s considered the norm.
Common complaints among parents regarding their children are that they are sensitive, distracted, playful, or defiant, to name a few. Instead, we should see them as empathetic, creative, spontaneous, or strong-minded. This simple perspective shift redefines undesirable traits and creates an opportunity to nurture each child’s personality. Then, we can begin to look at them for who they are instead of what we want them to be. This fresh perspective will help their individual light shine brighter and build confidence. The goal is not to encourage problematic behavior but to redirect it in more constructive ways.
It’s no doubt that how adults view a child has an enormous effect on their expectations. The Gentle East Martial Arts curriculum promotes an attitude of helping children become “the best version of themselves.” The whole-child focus builds on necessary developmental skills while also encouraging individuality. For example, the Instructors assess each child with curiosity instead of judgment. This allows them to nurture all behaviors in constructive ways that ultimately build the child’s confidence and appreciation of their uniqueness. In addition, the Parent SKILLZ supplemental information provides parents with tips for best parenting practices which improves the parent-child bond and makes parenting more easy and more fun.
When we maintain a positive focus on our children’s behaviors, challenging or not, we begin to appreciate their individuality more. This viewpoint fosters more positive feelings in a child, and their confidence grows. As they feel secure in themselves, their abilities and self-regulation improve because they can channel their, once deemed, negative behaviors into a constructive direction. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Let’s help children believe their behaviors and individuality are good, and their light will shine brighter.
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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.