This image is on the first page of our Instructor Training manual, and it is one of the key pieces of our teaching philosophy.
The basic idea is when people are more confident they apply effort in a more meaningful way, greater applied effort leads to success, and success leads to a increase in confidence.
As coaches & instructors our job is to create and feed that cycle, meaning create opportunities for our members to feel success, which leads to a increase in confidence.
One of the great things about martial arts is that pretty much everyone can achieve success to some level as it is a individual sport, accomplishments are individual.
Success is something every child needs to find, and as the adults our job to make sure that they are able to find that success.
One trouble is often when the child's primary area of success doesn't match with adults. In those cases the adult can often attempt to push the child towards that particular area, and in some cases pull them away from the area that the child has actually been seeing success in.
Confidence gained through success tends to bleed out into other areas, so when a person achieves a high level of success in something, anything really, it can boast their confidence and therefore increase their applied effort in other things.
This is the basic idea behind how students often start in martial arts, or other activities, see some level of success and recognition and the result is a increase in grades and focus in school or other areas of life.
On the flip side one thing that we see that doesn't work that is all to common is taking something away from a child that they are good at in order to try and redirect their focus to something that they aren't seeing as much success in.
The truth is not all people will be good at all subjects, however most students can find success in something. If a student is lacking in school, taking the things that they are good at outside of school away will not help their school, it will only cause the cycle of success to break and can end up hurting their confidence and their level of success.
As a martial arts school we also believe we have a distinct advantage over many other extra-curricular activities. Our program is set up with the idea of progressing through ranks in a mixed rank environment.
After a few months in the program just about any kid will be able to demonstrate a level of competence over any beginner. After a year or two they will be able to start assisting beginners in learning basic techniques. A few years in and they will be well on their way to being leaders within the class.
Contrast this to a team sport where the team progresses along as a unit, and in most cases the top players remain the top players and the weaker ones remain the weaker ones.
There is also something very real about the martial arts when done right. The confidence that comes from knowing that you can effectively pin / control / submit another person is a very real confidence. It's unfortunate that so many martial arts schools have drifted away from reality to choreographed routines and "self-defence" where an attacker throws a punch or does a grab then freezes while the defence does 8 return hits against a opponent standing still...
Anyways, whatever your child is good at, encourage them to that and recognize their success in it. Success in one thing and recognition for that success will bleed into all other areas of their life, even if the thing that they are seeing success in isn't what should be the top of the priority list.