Confidence is one of the things that martial arts schools in particular tout as the quality that your child will get if they take part in their classes. Building confidence is not about martial arts any more than it is about dance, gymnastics, playing an instrument or soccer. It is about feeling competent in a practice you have chosen to take part in. Recently a mom was telling me that her daughter who is being tutored in math is getting better at math and she sees a real growth in confidence. I would agree – when we become more competent we stop putting ourselves down (compassion for ourselves) and we do not feel like others are looking at us in a bad light – we are proud of ourselves. We do not need others to tell us we are good, we just know we are.
For a child or an adult what does confidence feel like? When any of us are confident with a task or in ourselves there is a special energy or strength we feel. As one student said, “in soccer I want to be the last to shoot penalty shots. I am sure I will score and win for our team.” There is a certainty that we literally can feel in our body.
As a parent we cannot give our child confidence. We can however nurture their special interests. While we may not understand their interest in dinosaurs – if a child has an interest or passion and are able to demonstrate their expertise, they are more likely to be successful in other areas of their life. Accepting that and not pushing them to do what we think they should be interested in is part of our parenting in a manner to help them to grow. Of course we want to expose them to a variety of activities. But finding the one they are passionate about is key to growing confidence.
In the martial arts we can especially gain confidence for a number of reasons and in a variety of ways. Students will get stronger physically, be able to demonstrate moves and other skills. Students will learn to set goals and reach them and they will learn to help others. Encouraging them in the aspects that they love is a way of building confidence.
Becoming a black belt is a process that results in a confident person – no matter the age. I encourage our students to be a black belt in life, which means always doing your best, being optimistic and creative, and persevering until you reach your goal. Those skills and characteristics will work well – no matter what your passion is.