The Kids Whisperer

I had a good laugh today. One of the parents from the kid’s class called me the Kids Whisperer.

Of course we have all heard about the “Horse Whisperer”, and the “Dog Whisperer. These are people that have found a way to connect to Horses and Dogs. They are able to reach past the barriers that divide humans from these animals and connect to them in a meaningful way.

I am proud that my working with kids is seen in a positive light. I work really hard to understand kids and to help them learn the martial arts in a positive and fun way, while maintaining the traditions and discipline.

I teach at both Elkhart Martial Arts, and the Elkhart Youth and Community Center (Formerly the YMCA). I use my training and experience to find connections to the kids.

I have been a: Church Senior Youth Leader, Youth Group Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Boy Scout Leader, and Education Major in College. All told, I have about 45 years of leading and teaching kids.

These are some of my guidelines in dealing with kids.

1. Kids are not little adults

When working with kids, you have to understand that their mental maturity is not the same as an adult. Consequences do not mean the same to them as they do to adults. Understanding happens at a slower pace than with adults.

2. Kids are high energy!

I tell parents that kids learning level is at head level, but their energy is as high as you can reach above your head. Until you deal with all that excess energy, you will not get good results. In my kid classes, I spend time at the beginning burning their excess energy in positive and fun ways. I have a lot of “Games” that we play designed to do just that. Those “Games” are martial arts techniques, that are spun in a fun way.

3. Kids need to be nurtured.

It is so easy for an adult to crush the spark of interest in a kid. I have seen many kids have a bad experience in the martial arts and not want to do it any more. You have to find a balance between making it fun, and teaching them discipline.

Shouting at kids, to make them “Stand Still” and “Behave”, will quickly cause them to lose interest and not want to come back. In Boy Scouts, we teach kids to carefully tend the spark, if they want to build a fire. Too much material, too soon, will smother the spark. Blowing too hard, will blow the spark out.

Nurture the spark, until it becomes a roaring fire.

4. Kids don’t respond well to anger. (who does?)

Shouting, screaming, threatening, drives kids away, or causes them to shut down. We lose control when we lose our cool. Why get angry at the kids, for your inability to reach them in a meaningful way?

5. Kids need order in their lives. Be consistent.

If you watch kids, you will see that they thrive on order, even if it looks like chaos to you. They have their rules, even if you don’t understand them.

Be consistent when dealing with kids. Constantly changing rules, to suit your mood, will confuse kids and make them less likely to listen to you.

I have a basic structure when I teach a kids class. I start off with paying our respect to the flags and then go into exercises that they find fun, and that develop their physical skill sets. That requires listening to what they say, and adjusting what you do. After that, their energy is drawn down, so you can work on mental skill sets. It doesn’t take long for their energy to rise again, and then we shift back to physical skill set drills (games). We end class with the parents voting for who the best behaved students were, and the students are rewarded in ways they find fun.

I am interested in hearing your feedback on this subject. Please feel free to leave a comment.


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