Self-esteem is the way we feel and think about ourselves. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself… belief in oneself [and] self-respect”. Self-esteem affects everything we do in our lives. Healthy self-esteem promotes a positive “Yes I Can” attitude, as opposed to a defeatist attitude of “No I Can’t”.
Nowhere is this concept more important than in the life of a young child. Children begin life helpless and dependent on their caregivers. In order to grow up to be happy and productive, they cannot stay that way. They must learn that they have a degree of control over their environment, and eventually, that they have more and more control over their own lives. They have to learn to have an attitude conducive to successful interaction with everything and everyone around them.
They must learn to believe in their own abilities and to perceive the world in a positive light. Unfortunately, too many children today worry about failure. They doubt their strengths, feeling insecure, unfocused, are overly critical of themselves, and often don’t believe that they can achieve the best in life if they put themselves to the task.
Poor self-esteem ends up negatively affecting everything they think, say, or do. On the other hand, children who feel good about themselves produce positive results. Helping your children grow up with strong character and self-esteem is arguably the most important task of parenthood.
The child with good self-esteem has the best chance of becoming a successful and happy adult. Fortunately, self-esteem can be dramatically improved in a child who, with the guidance and encouragement of his parents, commits himself to the taskof Personal Self Development.
Respected Role Models
Self-esteem is the armour that helps protect kids from the demons of life: alcohol, gangs, drugs, and destructive behaviour. There are several things parents can do to instil and nurture a sense of self-esteem within their child. First, the parents themselves need to feel good about themselves, for children pick up on subtle messages about their own self-worth from your body language and the way you talk about yourself. If you are often openly self-critical in front of a child, they will learn to be self-critical, children often model themselves after their parents. By clearly demonstrating your own self-worth, your child will respect you and learn to respect themselves.
Giving the Child Attention
An important way that you can teach your child their own value is by listening to them. When you listen to someone, giving them your full attention, you are in effect telling them that you value them, what they have to say and that they are important to you. Allow your child to express how he feels, and let your child finish what he is saying before offering your point of view. The child will learn by example to listen to others the same way you listen to him.
Another important factor contributing to a child’s self-esteem is discipline. Discipline can be described as any instruction or training that corrects or moulds a person’s mental faculties and moral
character. Children raised without discipline have lower self-esteem and tend to be more dependent, achieve less, and feel that they have less control over their world.
Proper discipline can be the means of creating a safe, supportive environment where learning can take place. Discipline begins with a good relationship between the parent and child, in which the child knows exactly what is expected of him, and knows that the consequences of misbehaving are reasonable and predictable. Children need and want to know what is expected of them. They thrive on the image of themselves achieving that expectation. They anticipate the approval they will receive. It is this expectation and approval that motivates a child to learn to read or to learn the multiplication tables. And not only does approval motivate a child, it also gives him something to take along with him: A sense of being worthy. Discipline then soon leads to Self-Discipline. At this level, the child is no longer doing things because they are told, they are doing it because they know it is the right thing to do.
Responsibility is the next key ingredient to healthy self-esteem. It is a great boost to self-esteem to feel that a person can contribute, and that the contribution is important. Added responsibility increases the confidence a child has in her ability to make it in the world. Responsibility requires goal setting, and sets the foundation for the achievement of goals, which feels good.
Parents should note their child’s abilities, talents, skills, and interests, and find occasion to frequently praise the child. Give your child the opportunity to show her ability. Display the work your child has done, such as paintings, stories, and trophies. Doing this will reinforce your child’s positive behaviour. Make sure that the praise is honest. For example, if your child did well recently on a math test, but is usually in the middle of the grade curve, don’t tell her she is the best math student in her class; do tell her how proud you are of how well she did on the test. Kids are more perceptive than we adults sometimes give them credit for. In giving your child honest praise, she will learn to value her talents and to see herself as a capable person. By seeing your child in a positive way, she also will learn to see herself in a positive way. Even when a child is struggling with one or more areas in her life, if she has confidence in herself, she can still feel OK in spite of the difficulty. She knows she has talents and that she should take pride in these and gain strength from them.
Promoting Feelings of Success
Finally, promote feelings of confidence and success. When a child learns something new or faces a challenge and succeeds, his self-esteem grows. Provide the conditions that will encourage your child to try new experiences. Make sure the child knows what to expect out of the experience. Let him practice the skills that will help him in the endeavour. Have patience with him, and allow him to proceed at his own pace in anything new. Pressure to perform before a child is ready may make him feel intimidated. Let the child know it is OK to fail, as long as he tries his very best, and let him know that with most things, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
What does our Martial Arts School have to do with Self Esteem?
The Lesson of Respect
One of the early lessons that your child will learn at our school is that of respect. The child is taught to respect the instructor as well as the other students, the school and himself. He learns that even opponents preparing to engage in combat can respect one another. Having good role models is important in the development of a child. Martial arts training starts as a relationship between the child and the instructor, a respected adult role model, who lets the child know exactly what is expected of him. Children strive to meet the expectations that people they look up to have for them. When a child accomplishes these expectations, he feels capable and valuable nurturing his self-esteem.
Communication and Attention
At our school our instructor’s job includes communicating with the students on their progress. The instructor spends time focusing on the individual needs of each student so that individual progress is made. In addition, our school is a wonderful place for your child to meet new friends with similar interests. It is a great environment in which children can practice communication and social skills.
In martial arts training, discipline is also an important ingredient. It takes discipline to consistently focus on improving one’s skill. It takes discipline to consistently come to practice and to concentrate on the work. Martial arts focus on positive action and the accomplishments of mental as well as physical feats. It is the philosophy of martial arts that both the body and the mind must be disciplined in order to overcome the obstacles that hinder one’s growth. Discipline is essential to developing healthy self-esteem. Another benefit that comes from this disciplined approach is the improved ability to concentrate on achieving a goal. This increased concentration carries over into other areas of the child’s life, including higher performance in school work and team sports.
In addition, as a child gains in rank in our school system, other students begin to look to him for guidance. He learns to feel confident in his abilities. He learns to effectively communicate what he knows to others and makes new friends. Although mastering a martial art can be fun and rewarding, it is not easy. A martial art requires much preparation and practice. This value of preparation and practice instils a sense of responsibility in a child. Although martial art training takes place in a team atmosphere, it is essentially a sport of individual accomplishments. The student strives to improve his skill for his own benefit, and this reinforces the idea that he is an important and valuable person. The martial arts student is taught to identify his unique strengths, and take pride in them.
One important side effect of responsibility is the realisation that ultimately the individual alone makes the difference in how well he does in an endeavour. A sense of responsibility adds to the self-esteem of a child because he realises that he is in control of his own behaviour, that he can make a difference, and that the achievement of goals is possible when he applies himself to them. At our school, students take on many responsibilities. They are responsible for their own accomplishments, for showing up for practice on time, for eating right and taking care of their bodies, for their treatment of other students, and for picking up after themselves. When the child moves up in rank and earns the honour of the next belt colour, he learns the valuable lesson that responsibility feels good! The belt is a sign of how much the student has advanced and how much hard work he has committed to the goal of moving forward in the art. It is a sign respected by the other students in the dojo. It is a proven positive reinforcement.
Recognition and Praise
The need for approval and recognition from others is very important, especially for children. The job of the school instructor is to let the child know what is expected, and encourage the child with the knowledge that, although the goal of reaching the next belt level will require work and effort, it is attainable. The martial arts instructor is trained to effectively teach the art by rewarding students with the attention and recognition they need when they have accomplished a goal. Reinforcing positive behaviour is essential for the proper development of both a child’s positive behaviour and self-esteem. The martial arts incorporate positive reinforcements into a programme of self-improvement based on a system of structured goals.
The student learns to have confidence in himself, to praise himself, and to value his own efforts and talents. One of the more obvious benefits that comes from practicing a martial art is the development of a healthy body and mind. Children who learn a martial art gain improved agility, balance, coordination, and reflexes. And this translates into better performance in team sports. Sometimes children who before might have been passed over when it was time to choose team mates in a football game are now picked. Even if they are not, they have built their self-esteem to a level that they know, as long as they have tried their hardest, it does not matter when they are picked.
Our school students more often than not see improvements in their grades at school and in the quality of their schoolwork. This provides the child with yet another area in which he can be proud of himself.
The true armour that our school gives to a person is the strength of self-esteem. Strong values makes the child a stronger person. In martial arts she learns respect for others. She learns to avoid dangerous situations, yet feels confident in her ability to defend herself. She feels proud of her successes in the studio, on the field, and in the classroom. She learns to think positively, to have belief in her abilities, and to look forward to new challenges.
Training at our school provides the focus on goals, the methods to achieve them, the patience of learning skills one step at a time, and the positive reinforcements children’s need.
Our school can build your child’s self-esteem, step by step, by improving her physical and mental abilities, teaching her discipline and responsibility, improving her social skills, and instilling a deep-rooted confidence in her own abilities. As parents, you want the best for your children. You want them to grow up to be good people, successful and happy. You want them to make friends and feel good about themselves. You want them to recognise their strengths, use their talents, and believe in their own ability to achieve what they want. When a child can take pride in her actions and what she can accomplish, she gains a sense of direction and purpose, increased confidence, and improved feelings of self-esteem.
Our unique Personal Development Curriculum and training is a structured, time-proven way to achieve all of these benefits. Your child will enjoy the training that instils these, and the values she learns now will be the ones she carries with her for the rest of her life!
Have a free lesson at our school and see if we can “Arm your Child with Self Esteem!”
Self Esteem Checklist
❏ Does your child have a sense of security, coming from well-defined and fairly enforced limits?
❏ Does your child have a sense of being unique, talented, and of having potential in a certain area?
❏ Does your child have a sense of belonging (to the family, church, school, or group)?
❏ Does your child have a sense of focus and purpose?
❏ Does your child know the power of responsibility, goal setting and achievement?
❏ Does your child respect others and himself?
❏ Does your child have the independence and confidence necessary to achieve success?
❏ Does your child know that you are there to support her when she needs you?
❏ Does your child know it’s OK to fail, as long as he knows he did his best?
Arm Your Child with Self Esteem
Self-esteem is your child’s greatest weapon against adopting an unhealthy lifestyle. With positive self-esteem, they will have the courage and discipline to say “NO” to inappropriate activities. Self-Esteem is also the cornerstone for building and maintaining a successful career. At our school, we are experts at teaching and nurturing self-esteem in children for a healthy and happy life!