Multiple times a week during my teenage years, I would head from high school to the karate school, where I taught martial arts to students ages three and up. My little ninjas taught me just as many lessons as I taught them – all of which can apply to parenting, minus the punching and kicking (I hope).
Always keep your guard up. In a leadership position, eyes are on you whether you're on or off duty, so be a good role model. If you don't demonstrate confidence, integrity, discipline, and respect at all times, you can't fairly expect the same of your students.
Unexpected feedback is the best feedback.Praise kids when they think you're not paying attention. Reward them for doing their best even when you're not around. They'll expect the obligatory response that comes when they do something right in front of you, but an exclamation of support from across the room will make their day.
You don't always have to be the favorite instructor. You're going to have bad days. The kids are going to get upset because they didn't pass a belt test, or because they're frustrated with a certain technique, and you're going to doubt your effectiveness as a teacher. But trust your instincts. If what you're having them do is truly in their best interest, stick with it, even if they don't approve at the moment.
You don't always have to be the instructor. Period. If you're not learning from your students, your students will stop learning from you. Adapt to their personalities and learning styles. Experiment with new methods. Fail. Teaching isn't about you; it's about the kids. It's okay to be their student in order to help them grow.
Size doesn't matter. I've seen more inspiring displays of perseverance from young students than I have from adult students. Grown-ups train with practical motives like weight loss and self-defense (both completely valid) but kids train with heart. It doesn't matter if they're only five years old or four feet tall; they're just as capable of achieving a black belt as anyone else.
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