As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your child is to establish a strong and positive relationship with them. But with the demands of a full-time job, managing the household, and the overwhelming commitment of after-school sports and activities, where do you even begin? Here are 5 simple ways to foster a stronger bond with your family that you can begin practicing today:
1. Spend quality time together
We get it. This can be easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to be. Set aside regular time each week to do an activity together that you all enjoy. This can be as simple as making dinner together, taking a family walk, or even a movie night at home. While many activities designed for kids don’t directly allow parents to participate, martial arts in an unexpected exception. In fact, training in the martial arts as a family has been proven to help families establish good fitness habits, increase levels of trust and self-esteem, and decrease stress and anxiety.
2. Listen and communicate
Make sure you REALLY listen to what your kids have to say. Yes, even when it’s a 20 minute recount of their latest Roblox adventure. Listening and engaging with curiosity when it comes to the little things, builds trust and encourages open and honest communication. It’s more likely that they will come to you with the bigger, more challenging matters if they trust that you will listen to the seemingly less significant matters. Additionally, training in the martial arts as a family encourages open communication. As you work through drills and training exercises together, you learn to communicate and even work through conflict and frustration in a healthy and beneficial way.
3. Show affection
This one is probably obvious, but it’s also an area most of us could probably do better in. Of course, affection can be demonstrated through physical affection, (ie. hugs, high-fives, fist bumps, etc.) or verbal affirmation, (ie. words of encouragement or praise). It’s truly remarkable what a difference a reassuring touch or a kind word can do to help your child feel loved and supported. Having other positive and supportive mentors in their lives, like their martial arts coaches, is also key in helping them develop confidence in who they are and encouraging them to practice their own version of positive self-talk.
4. Be patient and understanding
It’s ok to admit it…every parent has experienced being frustrated with their child at some point. That doesn’t mean we love them any less. But it’s how me chose to deal with our frustration that matters most. It’s important to practice calm communication and a whole lot of patience. It can be challenging to remember that our kids are still developing, mentally and physically, and sometimes that means they don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to their actions. The more you can demonstrate patience and understanding, without compromising your family’s morals or ethics, the stronger your bond will be. And oh, by the way, martial arts is a great outlet for stress relief and getting some of that frustration out in a healthy way (we like to call it “bag therapy”).
Rewards work as a way of positive reinforcement and really lets your kid know when they’ve done something well, and encourages good and consistent behavior. Experts agree that rewards work best when they are immediate (given right away) and intermittent (not every single time). Remember, this is NOT a bribe…it’s a reward. And yes, there’s a big difference. And guess what? Rewards don’t always have to be material things (though, it’s ok if they are sometimes). In fact, there are four main types or rewards you can consider (pro-tip…you’re doing amazing, so make sure you reward yourself, too):
There is no shortage of benefits when it comes to training in the martial arts. But, as a concerned parent, you want to be confident in selecting a program that will be most beneficial to your child. Allow us to grant you the gift of going second.
We hear all the time how much parents love martial arts and we’re excited to share what they have experienced!
Here are the top 5 reasons parents LOVE the martial arts for their families:
1. It Keeps Kids Active
It’s easy to see that martial arts is great exercise and, unlike less engaging workouts, the process of training in martial arts is more exciting and fun for kids of all ages. We hear time and time again, “I never thought I’d get my kid off the couch and willingly attending a fitness class…but they LOVE martial arts!” That’s because every class is different and progress is easily measurable. Students love being able to learn new techniques and earn new belt ranks as they improve over time. Being able to consistently celebrate their progress keeps them engaged and excited to come to class keeping them active and fit.
2. It Teaches Discipline
Parents often notice the immediate focus on practicing good discipline habits during martial arts classes. From requiring students to use respectful responses like “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am” when addressing their instructors and peers to practicing the martial bow, the importance of demonstrating good discipline during class is hard to miss. Perhaps even more important, an emphasis on self-control and self-discipline is also evident. Students learn to move on command, manage their emotions, and control their power when working with their peers.
3. It Teaches Confidence
Martial arts sets kids up for success by giving them a series of short-term goals that they can attain quickly while keeping them focused on the long-term goal of black belt. As parents, it’s so encouraging to see them develop stronger voices, carry themselves with more pride, and become advocates for themselves as they grow as martial artists. Through the course of their training, their confidence improves and they learn to believe that, with hard work and commitment, they can accomplish great things.
4. It Helps Them Avoid Dangerous Situations
Unfortunatly, parents today are no strangers to the idea that violence is a part of life. From bullying to child abduction, and even sex trafficking, keeping our kids safe is a major concern. One of the most important things martial arts teaches kids is how to be more aware of their surroundings and how to avoid putting themselves in potentially vulnerable situations. Clearly, the best way to avoid being a victim of violence is to not be there in the first place! Having said that, as responsible martial arts instructors, we also equip our students to be prepared to protect themselves from tricky people, if avoiding the situation is no longer an option. A solid martial arts program includes comprehensive self-protection training giving students the confidence they need to feel safe in everyday life.
5. It Creates Community
We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child and any parent who’s ever struggled to find their tribe knows how true this can be. As parents, it feels great to see your kid quickly making friends during class. What is often unexpected is how quickly parents will befriend other parents within the academy community. Pretty soon, everyone is just as invested in seeing your kid succeed as you are. Imagine being part of a community of instructors, parents, and like-minded kids dedicated to helping your child become the best versions of themselves. It’s more than a village. It’s family.
Halloween is right around the corner, which means it’s almost time for trick-or-treating fun! While Invictus helps people stay safe in everyday life, we’re also offering up some simple tips to stay safe on Halloween.
Believe it or not, only a third of parents talk to their kids annually about Halloween safety even though three quarters report having Halloween safety fears.
So, this year, as the kids get ready to dress up and head out for an evening of fun and candy, here are a few tips to chat with them about to ensure they stay safe on Halloween night.
While children are typically the focus when discussing Halloween safety tips, several of these tips can easily apply to adults as well. While children are smaller and harder to see, pedestrian injuries and fatalities also occur for adults on Halloween. If you’re accompanying your kids, always be aware of your surroundings, especially when crossing the street. If you choose to drive during trick-or-treat hours, be very cautious in neighborhoods and keep an eye out for excited kids darting into the street unexpectedly.
Clearly, having a plan as well as a pre-Halloween chat with your kids before heading out to trick-or-treat will help everyone feel safe and confident. Remember: Be smart, be seen, be safe…and, or course, HAVE FUN!
Ready to feel safe and confident in everyday life? Try a FREE martial arts training session at Invictus! Which class below are you most curious about?
Starting a new school year is an exciting time for many kids. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, learn new things, and tackle new challenges. But for many kids that are prone to bullying, starting a new school year can be a stressful experience. According to recent studies, one in three children will experience some form of bullying in their lifetime.
As parents, we want to do everything we can to protect our kids, but realistically, we can’t always be by their side. So, what steps can you take to bully-proof your kid?
Experts have long agreed that enrolling a child in martial arts can dramatically decrease how frequently a child is bullied. In fact, a recent study suggests that training in the martial arts can decrease the likelihood of bullying by up to 64%.
Encourage An Open Line Of Communication
As parents, it can be challenging to help our kids work through an encounter with a bully, especially if we don’t know about it. Kids will often feel embarrassed to admit they are being bullied, which is why establishing an open line of communication is so important. When kids feel it’s ok to talk to you about their experience with a bully, they are more likely to talk to other authority figures as well such as a school counselor. Sometimes, simply reporting the incident can resolve a problem with a bully before it becomes a long-term issue.
Martial arts teaches kids to confidently advocate for themselves. In fact, the best martial arts programs stress the importance of using a strong voice to stop a run-in with a bully before it can escalate. Avoiding a physical altercation is always the best bet.
Help Them Develop More Confidence
What makes some kids an easy target? Put simply, bullies tend to target individuals who they believe won’t fight back. They look for body language such as crossed arms, rounded shoulders, and lack of eye contact to identify insecure individuals who can be easily controlled or victimized. Experts agree that kids with high self-esteem and confidence are less likely to get bullied.
Building confidence through the martial arts is a great way to keep bullies at bay. Every martial arts class your kid attends is an opportunity to prove to themselves that they are strong and capable of greatness. Sparring drills encourage focusing and performing under pressure which is another great way to develop unshakable confidence. As they earn new belt ranks and learn more challenging techniques, their view of themselves and what they are capable of will shift and you will begin to see an outward demonstration of your kid becoming bully-proof.
Surround Them With Good Friends
It’s well known that bullies tend to seek out kids who lack community or are isolated. This is because it’s much easier to take advantage of and control a single kid rather than a group of kids. Also, fewer witnesses mean less of a likelihood that the bully will be identified and reprimanded.
When it comes to standing up to bullies, there’s always strength in numbers. If your kid is struggling to make new friends at school, enrolling them in a martial arts program is a great way to introduce them to new friends with similar mindsets. When it comes to making new friends, quality is more important than quantity. Even having just one significant friend at school can greatly reduce the likelihood that your kid will be bullied.
Have Them Learn Age-Appropriate Self-Protection Skills
Even though we always advocate for walking away from a bully, we also understand that there may come a time when that’s just not possible. In this case, it’s important for kids to understand how to appropriately defend themselves from a physical attack.
We often get asked: “what is the best self-defense move?” As you can imagine, it’s challenging to narrow it down to just one. When it comes to kids who are being bullied, verbal assertiveness should always be the first course of action. If this approach proves to be unsuccessful at deescalating the situation, non-violent self-defense techniques are the next best thing. This is because, typically, punching and kicking the bully back will do more harm than good. Instead, kids can learn leverage-based control holds to neutralize the threat without leaving a mark.
Role-playing common scenarios (such as being pushed or grabbed) during martial arts class will give your kid the confidence they need to know they are equipped to defend themselves should the need arise.
Ready to help your kid become bully-proof? Try a FREE training session at Invictus! Which class below are you most curious about?
Of all of the countless benefits of enrolling your child in a martial arts program, one of the most important may be forging lasting friendships through martial arts. Experts agree that good friends can enrich your life and improve your health. In fact, adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of health problems like depression, high blood pressure, and unhealthy BMI.
For school-aged children, having friends is important for developing important life skills such as socialization and conflict resolution. Making friends is also important for a child’s self-esteem. All kids thrive when they feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.
But, let’s face it, making friends can be a challenge for kids. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be!
Surrounding them with like-minded individuals in a positive and supportive environment can make it so much simpler. Developing friendships through martial arts is fun and rewarding! Let’s take a look at what makes martial arts friends so great:
They’re Committed To Self-Improvement
When it comes to making friends, quality is more important than quantity. Martial arts is all about making progress towards the goal of achieving new belt ranks and learning new skills. Setting goals and working towards them with like-minded individuals is a great way to build lasting friendships. Martial artists are often self-motivated and love encouraging their peers to develop good habits such as eating healthy or prioritizing their fitness.
Earning a black belt requires several years of commitment. This presents a unique opportunity to interact with the same group of people for an extended period of time. Nothing feels better than knowing that the people you train with are supporting you and cheering for you on the way to earning your black belt. It’s truly an unforgettable experience.
Respect is the foundation for any lasting friendship. In martial arts, respect is taught in several different ways. Students learn to bow to their training partners as a sign of respect. They also address each other as “yes, sir” or “yes ma’am” to further establish respectful relationships. Kids quickly learn that they not only deserve respect but that they must respect others as well.
In martial arts training, all individuals are treated with respect equally. Girls and boys train together. Different ages train together. The more diverse the class, the more rewarding the training experience. Kids develop an appreciation for their peers and learn how to demonstrate respect to them in an environment that frequently reinforces its importance.
Most people will agree that trust is an important aspect of any friendship. Building trust allows kids to feel accepted as they are and encourages them to share their successes and struggles with others.
Clearly, it takes a lot of trust to work with a training partner who is punching and kicking at you. Martial artists must develop exquisite control to prevent injuring themselves or the people they train with. Whether it’s training with pads or practicing sparring drills, through consistent practice, martial artists learn to rely and depend on their training partners.
They Share Your Passion
Common interests bring people together and create opportunities for building strong friendships. Kids often have a hard time introducing themselves to new people or even starting a conversation. Participating in a shared physical activity takes the pressure off of conversation, especially in the early stages of friendship.
It doesn’t take long to develop a passion for martial arts. Nothing feels better than being surrounded by people who just get it. They understand your excitement when you achieve a new belt rank, empathize with you when you struggle to perform well in a tournament, and even geek out with you at the latest martial arts themed movie or TV show. Martial arts friends will see you and understand you on a level most others won’t. And that’s pretty amazing.
Does your child struggle to make new friends? Fortunately, it’s never too late to build new friendships through the martial arts. Try a FREE training session at Invictus! Which class below are you most curious about?
Kid’s karate classes first gained popularity in the 80’s after the the movie The Karate Kid was released in theaters. Every kid wanted to be Daniel and every parent wanted their kids to be able to defend themselves against Kobra Kai bullies. As karate dojos began seeing more enrollment of youth members, other traditional martial arts began to follow suit. Now, almost 40 year later, there is no shortage of martial arts styles and school, from traditional to modern, that kids can train in.
Needless to say, shopping for a kid’s karate program can be overwhelming to parents who have no experience with martial arts.
Knowing what you want your child to learn from the martial arts is a great place to start.
Here’s a list of the most common reasons we hear from parents when it comes to why they sign their kids up for karate:
I Want My Kid To Be Able To Protect Themselves:
You may be wondering, which martial arts style is best for self-defense? While traditional styles like karate, taekwondo, and kung fu have a wealth of history and knowledge, they can miss the mark when it comes to practical application in a modern world. Modern styles like K-1 kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu offer a more practical approach to self-defense focusing on applied physics and body mechanics rather than choreographed movement. Look for a program that doesn’t just teach self-defense techniques, but also explains how the techniques works.
I Want My Kid To Be More Confident:
The key to developing confidence through the martial arts is less about the style and more about the school and instructors. Look for a place that offers a FREE trial class to get an idea of what the culture is like before you commit to long-term training. A training environment with enthusiastic and supportive instructors and other kids that genuinely look happy to be there are great indication of a healthy training environment. Also, find a place that offers smaller class sizes as larger classes can be intimidating to kids struggling with feeling confident.
I Want My Kid To Be Better Disciplined:
Most martial arts schools will implement several exercises to encourage discipline such as saying “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am” and bowing to instructors and training partners. But not all schools have programs in place that teach accountability and self-discipline. Look for a program that has clearly communicated requirements for belt rank advancement that includes more than just class attendance. Clearly communicating benchmarks is a great way to teach kids the importance of setting goals and putting in the work to achieve them.
I Want My Kid To Get Fit:
Contrary to what you may think, not all martial arts programs are created equal when it comes to fitness. Traditional styles can put a lot of emphasis on developing low stances and high kicks, but can lack intentionality when it comes to developing cardiovascular stamina and full-body strength development. Modern styles tend to focus more on developing upper body as well as lower body strength. While sparring is a great way to develop stronger cardio, programs that incorporate regular bag and pad drills tend to develop more well-rounded students. Look for a program that is intentional about including physical conditioning drills into every training session, not just sessions leading up to belt tests.
Ready to get your kids training? Register her for a free training session today to discover how we help develop strong and confident kids.
While martial arts is still largely a male-dominated industry, it’s important to recognize that martial arts isn’t just for boys. In fact, there are more and more young girls and women turning to martial arts training for its many unique benefits.
Here are four critically important lessons all girls learn when they train in the martial arts:
1. She’ll Learn To Love Herself:
Unfortunately, most young girls will struggle with low self-esteem before the age of 12. This is in-part due to negative messages delivered by others whether through social media and the recent increase in cyber-bullying, or “mean girls” lashing out due to their own lack of self-confidence. Regardless of the source, young girls are constantly bombarded with negative cultural messages about everything they should be critical of about themselves. And so she quickly learns: her body is ugly, she is weak, she is stupid, she is incapable.
Fortunately, martial arts delivers an important opposing message helping her realize everything that is amazing about her: she is worthy of respect, she is strong, and she can achieve amazing things through hard work and commitment. With a focus on self-respect, she will quickly learn that as a martial artist, she must respect herself and others and expect that others respect her in return.
Training in the martial arts will also improve her body image. Rather than seeing her body in terms of what it looks like, while training in the martial arts, she will get to experience what her body can do. Whether it’s kicking through a board or holding her own in a sparring match, she’ll realize that her body is strong and capable of doing incredible things, regardless of how it looks. This will develop her self-confidence and sense of self-worth and will help fortify her against attempted bullying.
2. She’ll Learn To Protect Herself:
The unfortunate reality of the world is that girls and women face a significantly higher risk of assault. On average, 1 in 6 women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime. While most martial arts instructors teach techniques that can be used for self-defense, simply learning self-defense isn’t enough. At Invictus Martial Arts, we educate all of our members on the importance of understanding the distinction between self-defense and self-protection. With a focus on informed awareness, she will learn to identify potentially violent behavior that can help her avoid ever becoming a target.
When it comes to self-protection, the best self-defense techniques are simple, easy to use, and effective. With consistent training in the martial arts, she will learn how to use her body to protect herself, even from larger and seemingly more powerful opponents.
3. She’ll Learn To Trust Herself:
There are so many opportunities for developing self-confidence through martial arts training. Imagine her experience the first time she breaks a board, or scores her first point in a sparring match, or wins her first medal at a tournament, or earns her first new belt rank. Each new achievement reinforces the idea that she can trust in her developing abilities and through hard work, time, and dedication, she can truly achieve anything she puts her mind to.
4. She’ll Learn That She Is An Equal:
While most youth sports are not coed, martial arts training provides a unique opportunity for girls and boys to train together and even compete with each other. In fact, girls who train in the martial arts benefit from interacting and partnering with boys in an environment where mutual respect is expected and enforced. These coed interactions reinforce the idea that she is no different than her male peers when it comes to her ability to perform and achieve. This experience will set her up for success in other areas of her life, including academic and professional endeavors.
Ready to empower a young girl in your life? Register her for a free training session today to discover how we help develop strong and confident girls.
Experts agree that family-based fitness has a greater likelihood of becoming lifelong fitness. In fact, our experience shows that training as a family in the martial arts has countless physical, cognitive, and social benefits and is an excellent way to build stronger families.
Here are three ways martial arts builds strong families:
Establish Lifelong Fitness Habits
According to SHAPE America it is recommended that children get 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Learning to be physically active is a habit that must be developed. Children learn best through observation, and establishing strong fitness habits during early childhood can yield positive results for years to come. Experience shows that regularly training in the martial arts not only increases physical strength and promotes good heart health, but it can also improve sleep, and boost your immune system.
Increase Family Bonding
Many times, the family is a child’s first example of what a team can look like. Training in the martial arts as a family is a great team-building activity where parents and children can work together towards the common goal of becoming black belts. Along with making progress in their training together, families also experience a sense of growth and accomplishment that will build stronger bonds and promote closer relationship with one another.
Build A Happier Family
Experts agree that families who train in the martial arts develop improved confidence and self-esteem. Moreover, martial arts training can also lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression by raising serotonin levels. Finally, by training together, families also learn important problem-solving skills, including conflict resolution. Developing these skills creates an all around stronger and happier family. And who doesn’t want that?
Ready to get your family training? CONTACT US today to discover more ways we help develop strong families.
In 2010, my world as I knew it changed. As we shared our first of many silent gazes, I embraced his small body and with it, my newest identity: Mom. His Mom. The magnitude of that moment was palpable. It was suddenly up to me to provide for him, to care for him, and to protect him. In the coming weeks, that would mean nursing him every two hours, changing countless diapers, gently washing the wisps of his hair, and above all, showing him what love felt like daily. As he matured into a toddler, it would mean, making sure he was eating his fruits and vegetable, teaching him colors and shapes and manners, wiping away tears and kissing away “boo-boos”- the gifts of curiosity and ambition, and above all else, showing him what love looked like daily.
Before I knew it, I was writing his initials on school supplies, packing his lunchbox, and fighting back my own tears as I watched him confidently walk into his kindergarten class for the first time. And as I watched the door close behind him, questions flooded in: Would he make good friends quickly? What if other kids picked on him? Would he be afraid? Who would protect him when I couldn’t? But as quickly as these questions threatened to consume me, all at once, I felt a calm wash over me. Why? Because I had given my son a pre-school gift: the gift of martial arts training.
You see, I knew a day would come when I wouldn’t be able to protect him, so I wanted to give him the next best thing: the knowledge and ability to protect himself.
My son started training in martial arts when he was only three years old. It began as a fun outlet for his exuberant energy but the value he received from starting his training at such an early age was so much more. As a result of his martial arts training, he learned how to focus on a task and follow directions. He discovered the importance of setting goals and working hard to achieve them. He learned to respect his instructors, his peers, and himself. Additionally, he developed self-confidence and learned about the responsibility that comes with being recognized as a leader. He gained an understanding of how to protect himself and others through various examples of self-defense. And he experienced the value of community and friendship.
So, when is the best age to start martial arts? As soon as you want your child to experience these benefits for themself.
Unfortunately, most martial arts schools will not train children under 6 years old. And even if you happen to find a school that will train a 3-5 year old, most likely, they are expected to train in a class with older children and even adults, and they are taught techniques and skills that may not be as beneficial to them at their young age.
As co-owner of Invictus Martial Arts, it became my passion to develop and facilitate a martial arts program specifically tailored to the unique learning style, pace, and energy of 3-5 year olds. Our Tiny Titans program uses age-appropriate martial arts lessons that target physical, mental, emotional, and social development. Best of all, our unique curriculum employs specific martial arts drills that prepare pre-school aged children to successfully meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) kindergarten standards.
Frederick Douglass said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Our goal with the Tiny Titans program is to do just that: build strong children that embrace challenges, enjoy effort, are intrigued by mistakes, and chose to always keep learning.
It may not be every day that we think about the security of our children but it’s always helpful to have simple-to-employ strategies to help keep our kids safe wherever they go. Here are five ways to help keep your kids safe…
1) Have a family password (or code word)
Having a family password or code word empowers your kids to feel more confident when someone other than you is picking them up and helps your peace of mind. When doing this it’s best to explain how to use it which can help calm fears in a potentially dangerous situation.
For example, if someone offers to pick them up but doesn’t know the family password that’s a good indication to your child that the person isn’t safe or to be trusted and needs to tell an authority they do trust right away.
2) Clarify what makes a “stranger”
To put it simply, a “stranger” is anyone mom and/or dad don’t know. This means that someone your child sees every day at school, daycare, in sports, or at a friend’s house is a potential stranger.
Making this distinction is good for kids to understand that they need to introduce you to the people they interact with regularly and, as parents, we want to know who’s influencing them anyway.
3) Talk about “tricky” people
A tricky person can be anyone. Yes, it could be the stranger we just discussed but it could also be Aunt Pat or Uncle Jeff. It could be our child’s best friend or anyone else they know. What makes a tricky person unique is that they’ll attempt to get the child to violate your family’s personal code of ethics.
One example is anyone who tries to get your child to lie for them or keep secrets from you is a tricky person because this violates your family’s code of ethics to always tell the truth.
4) Learn how to yell for help
Actually yelling the word, “Help!” is about as useful as a car alarm these days. Most people are immune to the stimulus. A better option is to yell, “He’s not my dad!” or “She’s not my mom!” Watch how many interested people come to the aid of your child!
Just make sure they understand that they aren’t allowed to do this if they don’t get the toy they want at the store.
5) Always tell someone
Any adult or peer that ask your child to keep a secret for them is a safety red flag. Of course, there are good secrets to keep like for birthdays and holidays but that distinction needs to be talked about. Help your child feel safe with you to talk about anything and let them know you’ll never judge them.
The bottom line is that good, clear, open communication with your child will help keep them safer. Maintain a genuine interest in your child’s life and give them the proper guidelines to make safe decisions. Empower them with these tools and talk about them often.