Greetings GBU/GBRC Students,
Thank you for being a part of our community and
participating in the shared vision of our founder
Carlos Gracie Jr. to spread our art across the globe
as we seek to do for others what jiujitsu has done
We are frequently asked by parents of GBK
students ‘how do I help my kids want to train when
they are feeling discouraged?’ This is not exclusive
to kids’ as even adults struggle with reaching their
goals when times get tough. The job of teaching
children to commit to something difficult is
complex, but it’s essential for them to have a
healthy emotional and social development.
Part of living in a community requires the
fulfillment of certain activities and tasks related to
other people, oneself, school, work, or the home.
These are the so-called commitments that are
assumed and fulfilled in the pursuit of a greater
goal: learning how to live well and thrive in society.
A good practice field for young children to learn the
value of commitment is to assign household chores.
This helps them to learn about teamwork, personal
responsibility, discipline, and time management.
However, children should learn that the value of
commitment isn’t limited to what’s done at home or
at school. There are many other areas where they
can be engaged in learning this concept, but we
have learned that training Brazilian Jiujitsu is
among the most effective. Does your student
understand that training BJJ will help them develop
their human potential as they seek to become the
best version of themselves?
So how does one help a child understand the value of committing to a consistent training schedule? What if they indicate that they don’t want to go to jiujitsu class anymore? How should one respond if their child says: “I don’t like training jiujitsu! It is too hard. I’m quitting.”
Perhaps the better question is have you sat down with your student to discuss the obligation and opportunity that BJJ entails? Does your student even know that they have made a particular commitment? Do they understand how much struggle is required to reach their goals on the mat? Do they even have goals? Many students who train BJJ simply show up to class without any idea of what their goals or expectations are – is this your child? Learning the value of fulfilling our commitments is as important a life skill as learning how to swim, one that will assist us in all endeavors throughout life, especially the hard times.
But how can you help a child understand this concept? As parents, we might be tempted to tell our kids to do something along the lines of ‘because I said so’ but this only creates temporary compliance rather than long-term commitment, and temporary compliance will always have to be arduously reinforced if your child doesn’t have a deep personal commitment. If you are like most parents, your kids have likely protested a number of things that are difficult – eating vegetables, going to bed on time, doing homework or housework, etc… Do you merely demand compliance or do you teach your kids why doing the hard things is so valuable? It may not surprise you that tiny humans, just like adults, often struggle to discipline themselves when they don’t see the greater vision or purpose of doing something difficult. Any number of life events can keep us from fulfilling our commitments, and when we think about quitting, we need a strong why in our life to keep us motivated during the difficult times. Albert Einstein once said that ‘if you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.’
In order to resist the internal and external forces in life that will make your student
question if they should quit BJJ consider helping your child honestly assess their
jiujitsu goals – perhaps it is health, fitness, community, motivation, mental
toughness, confidence, a new belt rank or gold medal, etc… Whatever your student’s
intention, actively work towards pursuing their stated goals on the mat to help carry
them through those moments where quitting seems like the right idea. And when
confronted with a discouraged child
who shortsightedly wishes to quit,
instead of fighting with them to coerce
compliance, or giving in to their
protestations and letting them quit
when it gets difficult, reply to them:
“okay, you can quit. But not today.”
Say to them: “when something feels
difficult our brain and body resist
because they want us to always feel
comfortable, but we can’t grow
stronger if we are comfortable, and if
we quit on a bad day we will never become great and will surely regret it later on.
how about you wait until a successful day and if you still want to quit at that point,
let’s negotiate at that point about your goals.” This will help your child to normalize
struggle [which builds resilience and character] and it honors their choices if they
want to try something else only after experiencing the best that the activity has to
offer. Never quit on a bad day is a mantra that we should all use for all parts of life,
and one that children can take with them as adults as they navigate life.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if your children see that you keep your own
commitments and promises, they’ll surely follow your lead and become responsible
adults. And the opposite is certainly true as well! Always lead by example and talk to
your kids about the commitments that you live up to as a parent. What struggle do
your kids see you engaged in? Are you expecting them to keep commitments that you
yourself aren’t willing to keep? Are you doing something as difficult as you are
expecting your kids to do? Remember to always celebrate your children’s efforts and
achievements and positively praise them when they persevere through the tough
This way, you will recognize and reinforce that they’ve done a great job in
fulfilling their commitments and this attitude on your part helps them to
build their self-worth and confidence. Don’t express yourself with negative
words about your own commitments and be sure to encourage them to think
positively about their own obligations. When emotions overwhelm them
because it’s difficult for them to make progress, value their efforts and
inspire them with phrases like “you’re doing very well, just look again and
you’re certain to keep improving” or “you’re making progress on your own
and that’s a great job” or “your hard work is paying off and I can see that
you are closer to accomplishing your goal.
There is no greater victory as a parent than to see children develop the skills necessary
to assist them in reaching their human potential, and here at GBU/GBRC are grateful to
play a small role in assisting you in this noble cause.
If your student is struggling with discouragement, please don’t hesitate to schedule a
time for you and your child to sit down with one of the Professors and discuss how we
can assist you in teaching your child the value of goal-setting, perseverance and grit
using BJJ as a vehicle on the road to human excellence.