Offered by Willy Strohmeier, Colorado Karate Club
“I just don’t get it”, complains Jonathan after trying, unsuccessfully to execute a takedown at Karate class. I look at him a bit puzzled and say: “That’s OK, that’s why you are here, to learn it, and I am here to help you. Plus, this is the first time you’ve tried it, let’s work on it, and you will see that you will get it .”
After a few adjustments and repetitions, Jonathan begins to understand the mechanics of the move, his body responds better and by the end of the class, he’s smiling at the feeling of having accomplished what he first thought was a lost cause.
Like Jonathan, many of us start up things with the preconceived notion that we are just not good at it. We already know that we will fail or do poorly. And unless we have someone to encourage and guide us to success, we will fulfill our own expectations and fail.
Most of the time though, this negative thinking has nothing to do with reality, but comes from what has been repeated to us by those around us, parents, teachers, friends, siblings, etc. Many times, without even realizing it, we are molding the self image of those around us with our words, especially children.
To begin with, we must get rid of negative personal labels, especially when correcting a child. Calling someone dumb, lazy, annoying, or things of that sort may seem unimportant at the moment, but can stick with a person even into adulthood. When correcting someone, it is helpful to separate the individual from the action. A simple trick is to replace: “You are…” with “What you did, was…” because it is a lot easier to change our actions, than it is to change who we are.
Fortunately, we can just as well help to build someone’s self confidence. So, as a parent or teacher, it is our objective not only to teach the child, but to ensure that they will perform at their best, to encourage them, and to help them realize that they are able to achieve more than they may have been led to believe by others.
Finally, I often mention to our instructors, that anytime we interact with a student, we must be keenly aware that we are either building them up, or tearing them down, there is no neutral encounter. The same applies to everyday life; within our families, work, social media, or out on the street, do we build, or do we demolish? Especially as it concerns to our children… My hope is that we take each day to build them up, bit by bit into strong, confident, and positive individuals.
Willy Strohmeier – Sensei
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