One of the most frustrating things many parents find is getting their child to stay committed to something. As adults we learnt that commitment is perhaps the most important key to success, and by making it a habit early in life we can set a child on a path that will take them wherever they want to go.
But children tend to not have a long term vision in that regard, they act in the now, and "now" they don’t want to do it anymore, they want to play video games.
The first thing to remember is that this is natural, for kids and adults. Any activity that is challenging will at times leave them wanting to give up.
The second thing is to address the problem before it is a problem. We are often guilty of talking about strong character only when weak character is displayed. We talk about respect when a child is being disrespectful and about fairness when a child isn’t playing fair. The secret is to discuss Character before it is a issue, and to recognize, point out and praise good character traits.
Here are some tips for teaching children to stay committed:
- Teach it before it becomes a issue: Respect for commitment and hard work should never be forgotten. Small things like recognizing that it was commitment and hard work that allowed the child to do something they couldn’t do before can go a long way. Teach your child to set goals and to put a plan in action to achieve them.
- Reach out for Assistance: Messages become stronger when they are heard from many voices. We are not all experts in everything, and there are experts at building strong character that can be drawn on. Look for a organization that uses a systemized curriculum for teaching character that is in line with your values.
- A Goal Should not be the end: In the martial arts we have a built in goal setting system with coloured belts. But a black belt is not the end of the line, it is the front gate to the amusement park, you want to work hard to get there, but you don’t turn around and drive home as soon as you get there.
- Don’t over schedule: Children need downtime, just like adults. If they are doing too many things they may end up wanting to do nothing.
- Make it visual: Goals that are seen are easier to achieve. When a child sees others riding a bike it will be easier to stay motivated to learn to do so. If you can find a way to keep the goal in front of your child they are more likely to stay motivated.
- Find out why: If a child wants to quit find out the reason. It may be something serious, it may be something minor. But if you don’t find out the reason you will never know if it could have been dealt with. Commitments should be kept, and teaching a child to deal with hurdles is far better then teaching a child to quit when obstacles arise.
- Look at the real problem: I’ve often heard a story that goes like this: "My child loves the class when he is here, but when its time to leave the house he doesn’t want to go." The question to ask then is what are they doing when it is time to leave? If they are playing video games they are being asked to stop doing something fun in order to drive, which is not fun, before doing something else that is fun. Try getting the child to do something else 15 minutes before it is time to leave. If they are cleaning their room when it is time to leave they will be ready and out the door in no time.
Commitment and quitting are both habits that we develop early in life. A child must learn to follow through when they commit, even when things get hard. As a parent you know this, and your child will look to you for guidance. We must be sure to teach them that hard work and perseverance are necessary to achieve goals and be successful.
Andrew Green is the Owner and Head Instructor at Innovative Martial Arts. He is dedicated to helping children develop strong character through Martial Arts, Fitness and Character Education. He can be reached through http://innovativema.ca or 204-505-2787