Tag: parenting

(Part 2) When I win, you win! WIN parenting…

I am a big fan of thanking our children for doing things, even if they are required to do them.

I have heard another philosophy about it: “No, we will thank them for going above and beyond. What, are we going to praise them for simply doing their job? Are we going to reward mediocrity?”

My answer to that question? Yes. We will reward mediocrity. Follow me for a second: Mediocre work will receive mediocre rewards. If you do bad work, you’ll probably get fired. If you do mediocre work, you’ll probably get paid mediocre, but you won’t get ahead. If you do excellent work, our hope is you will get noticed, and you will get ahead.

Yet, regardless of whether the work is mediocre or excellent, I will demonstrate courtesy in all things. When I go to a restaurant, I give the person money, and they give me food. You know what I say when that happens? “Thanks.” I do not think “I shouldn’t need to thank you, I’m giving you money, aren’t I?”

In any business transaction, I believe that the seller should thank the buyer, and the buyer should thank the seller. No one is better than the other. In the exchange, both sides should show courtesy.

In an employer/employee relationship (which, by the way, is the same as the above transaction: The employer is buying a service or labor, the employee is selling their time, skills, and services), I believe that employer should thank employee, and employee should thank employer. I am confident that I, as am employer, am providing a good experience and a good workplace for my employees. I also know that their work, their effort, their blood, sweat, and tears, is making my life and my school better. It’s giving me the chance to travel and train. It’s giving me opportunities for family time when we need it. So I am VERY thankful for all that they do. When I win, they win, and when they win, I win.

It’s our job, as employer and employees, to make sure that BOTH parties’ lives are enriched and better because of the transaction. Therefore that mentality of “I shouldn’t have to thank you, I’m paying you!” doesn’t fly with me. Courtesy in all things.


So bringing this concept back to parents and kids, we have a few rules we should play by.

  1. If my kid resists me by disobeying, fighting, arguing, whatever, I have to win the conflict. But, since winning the conflict will make them feel less powerful, I have to, at some point in the NEAR future, find another way to EMPOWER them to do good.

The child might see that they have the power to upset other people, like me. So my next mission is to find a way to show them that they have the power to make someone’s day better, to make them happier.

Because if a child (or anyone, really) feels powerless, they will hate that feeling, and the next step is to grab at ANYTHING that makes them feel powerful, whether it’s good or bad. Often, they will find that power through upsetting siblings, parents, and teachers. We need to supply good things that make them feel that they matter, that they have power to affect the world around them.

  1. Showing my child courtesy is more effective than “requiring courtesy”.

I have found that the number one way of teaching kids to say “Thank you” is by…well…thanking them. Examples are always more powerful than words.

  1. Every moment is a new moment. If my child was rude an hour ago, but then courteous now, the courtesy now is what we’ll focus on.

Because simple behaviorist psychology says: If they are courteous, and they get a negative response, then they’ll stop being courteous. Heck, so would adults, so why would we expect more of kids?

Each moment, bad or good, is a new moment. Following the rules yesterday doesn’t get you OUT of trouble today, but likewise, if you are good today, there is no need (in fact, we need NOT to) bring up yesterday.


So, in closing, let us set up our kids to win. When we win, let’s make sure they win. And when they win, we win.


Winning WITH our kids, not AGAINST them (Part 1)

Just a little story for you…

I’ve seen this a few times in my career, but no conference jumps out in my mind as much as this one that I had with JUST the kid, about seven or eight years ago.

Grandpa had signed up this kid as one of our Tigers (4, 5, and 6 year olds). He used to be one of those problem Tigers, with the anger fits, moody displays, deciding he didn’t want to follow the rules, etc. However, fast forward to four years later, and he had grown up to become a pretty cool Black Belt at nine years old. He was even getting close to testing for his second degree!
But Grandpa brought him in for a talk with me. I had just gotten the call from mom, as well. “I don’t know what’s going on. He is just being the most disrespectful, difficult, AHHH!!! I told him ‘If you keep up this attitude, I’m going to tell Mr. Clews!’ but he didn’t even seem to care!”


By the way, some additional info: I used this kid in my Leadership class to help new students, because this kid (who used to be a problem tiger!) took it upon HIMSELF to go to the new kid’s parents and tell them how great their kid did. Ever since he was eight. “Mrs. Smith, your son did a great job. He struggled a little at first but I noticed he got more and more confident, and his kicks got higher!” At EIGHT YEARS OLD, this kid started doing that.


But here I was, in a conference. With just the kid. Grandpa was outside, and had suggested that I talk with this kid, with no one listening so that maybe he would open up.

“So, here’s what I’ve heard.” I went through the details of what I’d heard, but also the kid that I had seen in my classes. I told him about how I was proud of what he’d become in our classes, but how concerned I was about at home. But then, I gave him the chance to talk, and I told him this:
“You’re free to speak. No matter what you say, I won’t get mad at you or correct you or anything. I just, want to hear what you’re thinking, where you’re at. So, what’s going on?”

Here’s what I learned…he fully admitted to the attitude. The misbehavior. The fights. The anger. The yelling. And he didn’t like it. He didn’t like being angry. Yelling at his mom didn’t make him feel good. He wanted to be different. But then…another element came out.

“Mom wants me to do my homework, and clean my room. But when I do it, she’s still mad. She’s like: ‘Finally. It’s about time…’ And I don’t feel good. It makes me not want to do it.”


After many stories like this, we came up with a plan. Here was the plan…

  1. We both knew that he and I were both Christians. So we talked about Jesus’s turn the other cheek teaching. The strength to be nice to someone, even when they’re rude to you. Not because of them, but because it’s good for our own spiritual development, and it’s Christlike.
  2. The talk: “It’s okay to not want to do it. But we still have to do it. But you know that already, huh?” “Yeah.”
  3. We came up with a list of 5 things that mom wanted him to do. If it was true that mom would respond negatively, then the goal was to do it BEFORE mom said. Why? Because when mom told him to do it, and then he did it, he still got a negative response. So he had to choose three things to do BEFORE mom told him to do it, so that he would feel good. It’s not that mom made him do it, it’s that he CHOSE to.
  4. If he did that homework for 5 out of 7 days, Grandpa would reward him with some planned reward.

How does the story go? He did it. Oh, and mom noticed. Also, mom talked with me later on. She told me that the kid was right, and that she wasn’t proud of it. Looking back, she knew that she was responding angrily, and when the kid did these things, it clicked for her.
I have respect for the mom for admitting this, and last I talked with her, she was so happy about who this kid has become, and how well Martial Arts helped him. This was a phase for mom, that mom successfully got out of.

I haven’t seen this kid in years now. But I saw an important lesson as an instructor come to life that day.


In any scenario where it becomes adults vs. kids, it’s easy to forget that in order for the parents to win, the child must lose.

“Well, of course! If the child is disobeying or fighting us, they NEED to lose! I mean, what happens if the kid WINS in a conflict with their parents, or teachers?”

Oh, I fully agree. When a battle happens, we’ve got to win. We can’t have children get rewarded for fighting with their parents, or not doing chores. There has to be a negative consequence. However, if we win the battle, then they lose the battle. And if they lose the battle, bitterness starts to grow, little by little. Especially if we rub in the victory, which unfortunately, parents can do sometimes if we aren’t careful.

I mean, history teaches us this. When Kaiser Wilhelm was defeated in World War 1, did the German Empire just “learn their lesson”? Or did the hurt and bitterness of losing the war become the soil that the most known-by-name evil dictator rose to power in?
On the other side of the spectrum, Abraham Lincoln, after the end of the American Civil War, strongly emphasized to everyone: The South are part of us again. We MUST welcome them back with open arms. Lincoln knew that rubbing the Confederates noses in defeat would have just led to a whole new war, meaning that all of the blood shed during the North vs. South war would have been in vain.


The moral to the story: Whether we are talking about civilizations in history, or whether we are talking about individuals in a family…whenever we set ourselves AGAINST someone (which we have to do sometimes), we must remember that our victory is their defeat. And we should take that in consideration when we plan our next move.


Continued next post: WHEN I WIN, YOU WIN!

The (selfish) reason we love it when parents train with their kids

So, if you’ve been at our academy, there’s a good chance you know about our family program. On any program that we have, if two members of a household are training, the rest of the family can train for free. For additional kids, they have to pay a registration fee, but no monthly tuition. For parents, you pay…nothing. We don’t even charge the registration fee…we send that in for you.

“Wow, Keizer ATA! Thank you! That’s so generous of you!” Oh, no, it’s not. It’s self-serving, and works towards our evil plan of taking over the world. Oh, and making my job totally easier. In short, when parents train for free, I win. (Hopefully, you win, too!) For lots of reasons.


  1. When parents are training with their kids, practice at home happens more often, so instructors spend less time “catching the student up” in class.
  2. When parents train, they are typically more understanding and encouraging because they grapple with how many of the techniques are more difficult than they look.
  3. When parents train, kids in class tend to goof off less because of the good example.
  4. When parents train, it’s easier to delegate team leaders, to set the pace or to help a struggling kid
  5. When parents (or any adults) train, we have more people who can hold boards for each other, and hold boards for the kids
  6. We would love to create instructors, who share martial arts with others. Statistically, families are more likely to produce an instructor amongst them (Out of the 12 ATA School Owners in Oregon, 9 of them came up through the ranks as part of a family membership)


  1. Parents training typically results in more “family practice” at home, meaning less time “catching the student up” in class.


It’s our job to make sure our students are progressing towards their goals, and that means making sure that the student is on track for the next testing. Yet, life happens, and occasionally, a) a student misses class, or b) a younger student perhaps has difficulty focusing, and therefore needs some additional classes or additional instructor time to catch up.
Now, I am hyper cautious about additional instructor time…I don’t believe that the instructor should be taken away from the focused student to work with the unfocused student. So, additional classes are the best bet for me to get a student caught up.
BUT if a parent, or parents, are training with the child? Magically, the student comes to the next class knowing everything that the family knows! Amazing! It must be that family practice!
Student wins because they stay caught up, instructor (me) wins because while I don’t mind hard work, I also don’t mind suddenly having a break from hard work J.


  1. Parents who train are more understanding of student’s struggles, and are naturally more encouraging.

Yes, we as parents try to be encouraging. But we can’t help but notice things our kids do wrong. I mean, seriously, the instructor just said to point your knee on the front kick! That’s basic! Why aren’t you doing it?
Then, the parent takes class, and realizes that they forgot to point their knee because they were too focused on keeping their hands up and pivoting their bottom foot and having the proper foot position and…well, you get the picture.
We are always willing to explain how a student is doing in class, and why they often forget to do certain things. But if you take class, suddenly we don’t have to explain it, you just get it!
You also tend to understand why kids get pumped, too :-D.


  1. When parents train, ALL the kids tend to goof off a little less

Every individual in a classroom affects the environment in some way or another. Our goal is to have fun by working hard. Working hard without the fun is…well…not fun. But also, having fun by goofing off results in injuries/accidents (loose muscles, lack of focus and awareness). Also, even the kids feel like they wasted their time afterwards.
As an instructor, it’s our job to facilitate the “have fun by working hard” environment. But that is so much easier when several adults are creating that environment, and not just one.


  1. When parents train, we can delegate team leaders.

As the class size grows, we have our little techniques to make sure that no one gets left behind. We create teams, and we assign someone to lead the team.

Kids are awesome, and can grow into incredible leaders. But sometimes, kid-leaders fall into these traps: Either going too slow and waiting for their team to catch up (so the slowest makes everyone else bored), or “telling” and not encouraging their teammates.
The kids will learn how to do that with time (especially on Leadership program!) but adults are typically better at keeping the kids on track, keeping up with a certain pace instead of holding their team back.


  1. When parents train, we have more board holders!

And not just for the kids, but for each other.

Board breaking is required for blue belts and above at testing, and it’s an important part of learning the physics of self-defense. Also it is a FAVORITE for a lot of our students! However, when you have a whole class of 20 kids and one board holder, then every student can get ONE board break in…if you burn up 10 minutes of our 45 minute class (assuming every student breaks within a few attempts, and we don’t slow down to work with any of them!).

Now, for every adult, that’s one more repetition the students could get on board breaking! Not to mention…the more adults, the more attempts the adults can get while holding for each other.


  1. Most instructors come from family memberships

And I haven’t quite figured out why, but I have my theories. While teaching is fun, learning how to teach is a difficult road for a lot of potential instructors. Anybody who has learned to teach has been through the student who just goofed off no matter what, the student who just couldn’t learn their form, the student who cried because the drill was just too hard, the student who got hurt and it was totally your fault, the student who you just thought was going to be so awesome but then they disappeared with no explanation. We’ve been through all of that.
Also, for many people, teaching is more personal, and therefore it is very difficult to accept constructive criticism on a class.

A future instructor needs encouragement from someone who understands how difficult the techniques are, but also understands the difference martial arts training can make in someone’s life. When the family gets it, because they’ve trained together, it’s a powerful force.

I love teaching martial arts. I want to see more people benefit from martial arts. So I would love to see someone else catch the “Man, I want to teach this stuff” bug! And remember, every martial artist in the world, school owner, Grand Master, world champion, was a white belt at some point.

Although it’s not for everybody, we are always wondering: Who is going to be the next person who decides that they want not just to learn martial arts, but to teach it?


So those six reasons are why we love it when parents train, and why parents train free if there are two kids in the program. Is it nice of us? Well, we hope you think so, but really, it’s because it makes our job easier AND radically changes the future of martial arts for our families, and the surrounding lives they touch.