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 do know that other things do 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.
Let’s take a look at two young adults that I personally know. The first one had parents that helped him plan his life. Helped mold the direction he was taking, in terms of getting his homework done, being involved in youth groups, and other activities that promoted character development.
Did this child always want to do his homework? Did he always want to stop playing with his neighborhood friends to go to youth group or karate? The answer is obviously NO. This young man we will name Chris. Chris earned his Jr. Black Belt from Empowered Martial Arts and went on to earn his 1st degree while he was in high school. Today, Chris is in the final stages of medical school!
The second one, I will call Jerry. Jerry always wanted to do those things that were fun. He never wanted to do things that were “boring” and would put up a fuss when asked to do so. Eventually he “wore down” his parents until they were tired of fighting him. Jerry preferred to watch TV or play with his friends that do anything else. During the junior high years he had extra time on his hands. He and his buddies liked to clown around and one thing lead to another, none of it productive but all of it was fun. In high school, he didn’t like his teachers so he learned how to cut classes without getting caught.
These two young men are about the same age. Chris is excited about getting into the “real world” and helping to heal people. Jerry is in the “real world” and I haven’t been able to keep track of how many jobs he has had. I do know that he has no real education, is always broke and unhappy, and has no solid plans for the future.
When I view these two young men’s lives, I can’t help but think of what Mark Twain once said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”. Eventually, Chris and Jerry will probably have children. Hopefully, that cycle won’t continue.
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 that 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.
Last year we tested 23 children for the rank of Jr. Black Belt. At the conclusion of the test one of our instructors asked an interesting question…
“How many of you, at one point during your journey to Black Belt, wanted to quit, only your parents wouldn’t let you?” Slowly one hand came up, then another, and another, after a while all the hands were meekly raised. Then he asked them another question. “How many of you are glad you stuck it out?” All 23 hands shot up high!
There will be a time that your child won’t want to stop what he/she is doing to go to martial arts but they have 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.
Committed to helping create happy, healthy and successful kids,
Hanshi John Geyston
Empowered Martial Arts