There is one question I have been asked numerous times over the past two decades in my role as a Martial Arts instructor: Should parents take an activity away from their child as a punishment? For instance, your child is excited about our martial art classes, but misbehaving at school, so parents want to take away lessons as a punishment.
First, let me be clear: my goal here is not to judge anyone’s parenting. Parenting is extremely difficult, and what’s best for one family may differ for another; what follows is a consideration for parents asking themselves this same question based on my experience working with many families over the years.
The basic rationale for taking away an activity is straightforward: If children are really enjoying an activity, taking the activity away as a punishment will deter them from the behaviour they are being punished for. While that idea is straightforward, it also begs the question: What benefits will a child miss out on by not participating in the activity?
In sports, like soccer or basketball, children get exercise, improve their athleticism, and build their confidence. By practicing musical instruments, children learn the benefits of steady, disciplined practice. When figuring out whether to take away these kinds of activities, as a parent it’s important to ask yourself, is withholding the potential benefits of an activity worth it as a punishment? In the case of withholding your child from a martial arts class as a form of punishment, you are denying your child’s potential to develop his/her: responsibility, discipline, perseverance, values, positivity, humility, confidence, respect, goal setting, flexibility, balance, work ethic, wisdom, courage, creativity, leadership, open-mindedness, mindfulness, situational awareness. With the increase of childhood obesity and mental health and well-being across our schools, I ask you to reflect on the benefits of taking away a martial arts session from your child that can clearly deliver a lesson equal to any they receive within the curriculum at school.
Attending a Martial Arts session is and always will be the basic building block and foundation for your child as they transition into their adolescent years and into adulthood. Instead of withdrawing your child from a session, consider it the platform for which they will take away what has been taught on the mat and hopefully apply it in their real world as they navigate their way to adulthood.
At Kicks our goal is to help children build positive behaviours founded in strong character. Punishment can be a valid disciplinary tool; however, it must be aligned with, rather than working against, the true goal of discipline.