Empowering vs Enabling – The Fine Line of Parenting

We live in a competitive world and most parents would jump at the chance to give their child every advantage imaginable. The world can also be unkind and, as parents, we feel a need to protect our children from everything possible. And yes, parents are supposed to help and protect their children but when does supporting children turn into overhelping? The difference between the two is a very fine line and is often very difficult to decipher.

Responsible parenting means proving food, clothing, and shelter, giving attention and love, and protecting our children from danger. It does not mean doing everything for them and protecting them from anything that may bring them grief. This type of parenting is excessive and can develop due to a parentu2019s fear, anxiety, or peer pressure from other parents. It can also be a way that parents overcompensate for the difficult childhood they experienced. Whatever the case, although the hyper-involvement comes from a place of love, it can actually hinder a childu2019s ability to achieve autonomy.

In child development terms, autonomy develops when children can function independently and have choices. Without this, they may experience what psychologist Erik Erikson called u201cshame and doubt.u201d This leads to decreased confidence and increased anxiety. And when parents make all the decisions and fix all the problems for their children, those children have underdeveloped coping and life skills. The goal should not be to raise dependent children but, instead, to raise resilient and confident ones.

In order for this to happen, parents must empower their children by teaching self-reliance. The goal is to raise children who are independent and stable on their own. For this to happen children must be allowed to make mistakes and learn to be resourceful in finding solutions to problems that present themselves. Parents can do this by supporting their children without completely removing themselves from the process. It is important for parents to be there for their children as a sounding board. This will help them develop healthy coping strategies and feel more confident in their decision making.

One way to do this is by letting children make mistakes in a safe environment. In the SKILLZ program, instructors utilize the classroom as a way to foster autonomy while teaching the skill of the day. By using Teaching SKILLZ such as u201cchoicesu201d and u201cintrinsic motivation,u201d instructors are providing opportunities for children to make their own

decisions so they feel confident. And when a mistake is made, instructors use u201cre-directionu201d to get them back on track and try again.

The line between empowering and enabling is a very fine one. But as career and life coach Maura Koutoujian put it, u201cWhen a child is enabled, they miss out in the opportunity to cultivate intrinsic motivation – a critical component in developing accountability and self-confidence.u201d Although itu2019s hard for parents to see their children struggle, hurt and disappointment are a part of life and children need to develop ways to overcome those things on their own. Supportive parenting should always move children closer to independence and stability which will lead to resilient adults in the future.

How Parental Involvement Increases Child Success

Parents are an essential element to their childu2019s success in anything. The enthusiasm and support, or lack thereof, of a parent can make or break a childu2019s accomplishments. In SKILLZ martial arts, it is even more essential that parents be involved as part of the teaching team since the SKILLZ system applies child development and psychology. This approach can create extreme success for a child when their parents appreciate the program and are involved in the process.

Parents that enroll their children in martial arts want to see them succeed but most donu2019t know what is needed from them to make this happen. Often, children who are in martial arts do not have parents that are martial artists themselves. Parents usually know what the benefits of martial arts are but donu2019t understand the process of making these benefits a reality. Since the goal of the SKILLZ program is to help children grow to be the best version of themselves, much emphasis is placed on the teaching team of instructors and parents.

The SKILLZ curriculum is based on the developmental stages of children. The skill requirements for each level were carefully designed to developmentally benefit the child the most while using martial arts as a vehicle to ensure success. Within this system, the child not only learns self-defense, but also develops physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. To help parents prepare for this journey with their child, they receive a parent manual for the level their child is enrolled in. This initiates the teaching team collaboration and sets the stage for success.

In the SKILLZ program, communication is essential to helping children be the most successful. Throughout each testing cycle, information is distributed on the skills that are being taught in a specific week. This helps parents to know what is happening in each class so they can initiate a conversation with their child about it. During or directly after class, SKILLZ instructors do a quick overview of the skill of the day, with the parents that watching, so they can gain a better understanding of the benefits of the class to the overall development of their child. Therefore, it is important for parents to be present, as often as possible, when their children are taking class.

Since parental involvement is an essential part of this program, the instructors work to educate the parents on the different aspects of the program by providing the quick overviews as well as implementing mat chats during class and using the supplemental program, Parent SKILLZ, as an additional resource. Special class events are also held from time to time, so that parents can participate in class with their child. By doing this, parents are then aware of how they can help their child train at home. This also helps

solidify the engagement of the parents in their childu2019s training, thereby, increasing their childu2019s excitement and enjoyment of the activity ultimately leading to success.

By fostering a good working relationship with parents, SKILLZ instructors make certain that parents have the resources they need to help their child. When parents are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the instruction their child is receiving, they can better help their child navigate through the training process. As an added benefit, the parent-child relationship is nurtured as all aspects of the SKILLZ program are implemented and reinforced. This ensures success for the child as they develop to be the best version of themselves.

How to Manage a Child’s Temperament

Every child is born with their own unique way of interacting with the world. Some are flexible in the midst of change while others may experience stress when presented with new situations or a change in schedule. This is what is referred to as temperament. And while some temperaments are easier to handle then others, it is important for parents to understand temperament traits, such as adaptability. By doing this, we can help children become the best version of themselves in the most effective way possible.

Temperament is the way a child reacts to their environment and how they regulate emotions. Psychiatrists Dr. Stella Chess and Dr. Alexander Thomas identified nine dimensions of temperament that they felt were significant when determining how a child relates with the world. One of the nine, adaptability, plays a huge role in how children transition through changes around them. Understanding how this plays a role in the different types of temperament is key for parents, teachers, and coaches.

Within their research, Dr. Chess and Dr. Thomas identified three types of temperament: easy, difficult, and slow to warm up. In regards to adaptability, children with an easy temperament are able to adjust to changes quickly and smoothly and enjoy new activities. However, they can be impulsive because they always jump into new things, sometimes without thinking first. Difficult temperaments tend to have very strong emotional reactions to things and are extra sensitive to stimuli. On the flip side, they are very passionate and determined. Slow to warm up children often resist new activities and feel uncomfortable around new people. On a positive note, though, they are less likely to be influenced by peer pressure and they thrive on routines.

Knowing this information can help parents and other adults interact with children of different temperaments more effectively. One of the first things to do is to be aware of your childu2019s reactions in order to identify their temperament type. No matter what temperament they have, make sure children know that the feelings they are experiencing are ok and avoid comparing their temperament to that of another child. When addressing different temperaments, help the easy ones with thinking before they act. Help the children with more difficult temperaments by keeping a consistent schedule and encourage self-awareness. For slow to warm up children, give them time to adjust to new situations and avoid putting pressure on them to jump into activities before they are ready.

To help with this the SKILLZ program offers supplemental information called Parent SKILLZ that supports parents to be the best they can for their child. Within this curriculum, there are eight skills that offer ways to do this. Utilizing these skills when addressing individual

child temperaments will be the most effective way to handle it. And while itu2019s important for parents to know the temperament of their child, it is equally important for teachers and coaches to be apply this as well. SKILLZ instructors incorporate these skills into their interactions with students on a daily basis. They are attuned to their individual needs and adjust accordingly.

Temperament is different from child to child, even within the same family. Children do not choose what their temperament is, and one temperament is not better or worse than the other. Re-framing how you describe a child can be powerful for them and you. The easy child is outgoing, the difficult child is determined, and the slow to warm child is observant. The important thing to remember is that each child is unique and help them to make the best of their own temperament.

Not All Ninjas Are The Same

All parents want the same thing…for their child to be a positive member of society and experience success. And while these are important things, they often come through a push to achieve and be the best in everything. Unfortunately, this is frequently done through comparing their children to others. This, however, often leads to stress and lower self-esteem in children. What is important to remember is that each child has different strengths and rates at which they develop.

The SKILLZ program was developed so that children would be placed in a class that met their stage of development. Instead of having a 5-year-old in the same class as a 10-year-old and expecting the same outcomes from them, the levels were split based on research in the areas of science and psychology. This helps to target children’s skills and abilities, so they aren’t too challenging or too easy.

The layout of each SKILLZ level is to focus on the needs of that age group. However, parents sometimes still compare their child to others in the class. For example, in the Core SKILLZ class, one child may achieve the agility skill faster, but another child may achieve the concentration skill faster. There is nothing to worry about, they will each achieve the skill when they are ready. The important thing is that they are both achieving new successes compared to where they were before as an individual.

The ultimate goal of this program is to help each child become the best version of themselves. In this statement, “of themselves” is the key. It is important to remember that even within the framework of age-specific classes, there are still individual differences among the children including strengths and rate of learning. As Robert John Meehan said, “Every child has a different learning style and pace. Each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also capable of succeeding.”

And yes, there is a time for a healthy form of competition in order to sometimes give children a little push out of their comfort zone to achieve another level. However, when discussing individual development, one child cannot be compared to another while still aiming to instill self-esteem and drive. Besides, if we could all do the exact same thing at every level, what fun would that be?

We have to remember to meet children where they are in their own individual development. From there, we can make their strengths greater and help them improve in the areas that are more challenging for them. Appreciate each child’s uniqueness and foster their individual development by celebrating their successes and creating the drive in them to achieve more. This use of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation will move them closer to success then comparison will. Remember, “Don’t compare your child to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.”

Is It Rude, Is It Mean, Is It Bullying?

As they say, kids will be kids. And yes, children and teens can be unkind to their peers and feelings get hurt. The problem is when these behaviors become common and target the same person repeatedly. This is when kids being kids begins to cross the line to bullying. And while bullying is a very terrible thing for anyone to endure, it is important to look at the actual behavior and determine if it really is bullying or if it is children being rude or mean.

Bullying is a term that has become more prevalent in recent years even though the actual act of bullying has been around for a very long time. Although studies have shown that the rates of bullying incidents have actually decreased, this topic has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds and in the media more often. This is largely due to increased amounts of children and teens harming themselves as a response to their experiences.

According to Stopbullying.gov “In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include an imbalance of power” while being repetitive in nature. When children use their power to bully someone it could include “physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity.” If this behavior is done more than once or twice, it is considered bullying and should be addressed as so.

There are different types of bullying: verbal, social, physical, and cyber. While physical bullying happens often, verbal and social bullying are the most prevalent. These types generally happen during school hours or at school events. Cyber bullying is on the rise due to the increased use of technology by children and teens. Whereas children can go home and escape the other types of bullying, cyber bullying reaches far beyond the school yard.

Bullying is a very emotional subject, so it is important to take all accusations seriously and never minimize someone’s experience. It is vital, though, to determine if the behavior was bullying or was just a child being rude or mean. For example, a child says to another child “You’re so stupid” and this happens once, maybe twice. By definition, it is not considered bullying but yes, it is mean and can hurt the child, on the receiving end of it, emotionally.

Trudy Ludwig, author of “My Secret Bully” describes the difference in a child being rude or mean and showing bullying behaviors with easy to understand definitions. Rude is a child inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else. Mean is when a child purposefully says or does something to hurt someone once (maybe twice). Bullying involves intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power. Being familiar with these helps to give some guidance when addressing harmful behaviors and giving appropriate interventions.

Bullying can happen anywhere and to anyone. It is important to know the warning signs that a child may exhibit when they are being bullied. Also knowing that children and teens don’t always ask for help is essential to know. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, less than half of bullying incidents were not reported because children and teens felt that they could handle it on their own, they didn’t want more problems from the bully, they were embarrassed, or they felt rejected.

It is vital for anyone working with children to be educated on the warning signs of bullying behaviors while maintaining an objective look at the actual behaviors that are exhibited in order to determine appropriate consequences. Educating parents and the community about the differences in children being rude or mean and actual bullying behaviors is essential to addressing the behaviors in the most effective

Master Low

Martial Arts Cross Training The Secret to Developing More Well-Rounded Athletes

An athlete is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.” Athletes in specific sports train to be at the top of their game, but how much better of an athlete would they be if they had a well-rounded cross training program? For years, martial arts has been viewed more as an “art” than a “sport.” And while, there is much beauty in it, there is also a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into the training. However, that is the part that the general population does not see. Training in any form of martial arts is rigorous and is, by far, one of the most versatile. Those that have studied any form of martial arts knows what is require of them in training in order to achieve higher levels of mind and body fitness. Martial arts creates well-round athletes. This may come to a surprise to some, but not to those that train in it. From strength and speed training to mental acuity and confidence to flexibility and balance, martial arts covers it all. Using martial arts as a training foundation for athlete development helps people in all sports become better physically and mentally equipped, skills that will give them an edge in their own sport. This idea of martial arts cross-training, however, is not new. It’s just not something that is in the forefront when we hear of sports training. There are many professional athletes across the country and across various sports that train in some form of martial arts. They’ve discovered the numerous benefits that martial arts provides them in their overall sports performance. According to the LA Times, Clay Matthews, a linebacker for the LA Rams, said the players wanted to condition their bodies to be able to stay healthy and to train their minds to be stronger than their opponents’. Phil Mickelson, a professional golf player, says that his training in martial arts has helped him control his body and focus better on his game. The multi-dimensional way of training that martial arts provides can assist athletes in any sport. And what’s even better is that martial arts is not a seasonal sport so the consistency in the training has a huge impact on keeping athletes fit in the off season as well. When athletes start this type of cross-training as children, the benefits have even more of an impact. Since the SKILLZ program was created as a whole child focused approach by using martial arts as the vehicle to teach, child athletes benefit even more in this system through the method of four-dimensional teaching. They learn how to keep their bodies healthy and it teaches them different ways to train so they are at peak performance level. It helps them learn to work as a team and support others. It teaches them to stay focused and remain calm under pressure, and it helps them learn more quickly and remember things easier. As sports training continues to evolve and focus on the whole athlete, more people will begin turning to martial arts as a method of cross training. Knowledge is power and utilizing martial arts training as a foundation to athletic development will be the method of choice to keep athletes strong mentally and physically during the on and off seasons.

Keeping Communication Lines Open.

Communication is crucial when it comes to all of the challenges your child will face each day at school. It is important for your child to feel comfortable speaking with you about bullies, fears, and anxieties. You can turn any challenge around if you set it up right.

Here are some important tips for helping your child feel comfortable about communication:

  1. Never ignore your child’s anxieties or stresses. This is a crucial mistake that many parents make, and most of the time it is on accident. Sometimes parents get tangled up with all of their own responsibilities that they brush aside situations brought up by their child that don’t seem important. What you need to remember is: EVERYTHING your child says to you is important to them.
  2. Ask them about their day to keep an open dialog. Sometimes children hold back sharing their fears and anxieties simply because they don’t want to bother you. By asking them how their day was and if there was anything they wanted to talk about, you are showing them you care.
  3. Try to put their anxieties and stresses into a perspective that they understand. For example, everyone is bullied at one point in their life. If your child’s stress is about bullying, share your bullying experience and let them know that you understand how they feel and then provide a simple solution that they can handle.


Master Low

Age Specific Training

Hey SKILLZ Family,

It’s time for a refresher course on the Age-Specific Benefits of SKILLZ!

There are millions of children participating in Martial Arts.

That statistic is rapidly growing at 15% per year according to leading child experts.

The reason why is because parent’s across the globe are recognizing all of the amazing benefits that the Martial Arts has to offer their children.

The best part is we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. This number will continue to soar for many years to come.

With that said, it is beneficial for Martial Arts school owners and instructors to perfect their ability to explain the benefits of training with parents.

There are so many underlying benefits that sometimes parent’s may not realize how training increases their child’s development.

For example: a simple drill of kicking and counting will increase a 3 year olds learning ability far beyond the normal expectations of children the same age.

As a parent, who wouldn’t want their child to increase their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social growth?

With that said, we are going to make your job easier by breaking down the benefits in an age-specific manner.

This will help you explain the many benefits SKILLZ has to offer more clearly to the parents.

In this POST, I’ll provide you with a comprehensive overview of benefits for the following 3 and 4 year olds

Let’s get started!

The benefits of 3 and 4 year olds in Martial Arts

Children this age are entering the “magical years” in their growth and development. They will for the first time experience rapid growth and development in the early stages of many skills. Martial Arts will help them kick-start their growth and development in a positive and constructive atmosphere.

Keep in mind that if you are still part of the “new old school” method and combine 3 to 6-year olds together, you are limiting your results.

Top three PHYSICAL milestones for this age are:

Early development in the following…

  1. Upper body, core, and lower body muscles developed to remain in one position for 10 seconds or longer.
  2. Alternating feet and hands for 10 reps for longer.
  3. Spatial awareness (where their body exists in space/ how far or close things really are) to catch an object from various directions 5 times in a row or longer.

Top three INTELLECTUAL milestones for this age are:

Early development in the following…

  1. Following directions with verbal cues only.
  2. Processing 3-step or higher commands.
  3. Repeating process of 3 consecutive routines of more.

Top three EMOTIONAL milestones for this age are:

Early development in the following…

  1. Demonstrating a “can do” attitude.
  2. Controlling their emotions when they are challenged.
  3. Facing fears such as trying new things and meeting new people.

Top three SOCIAL milestones for this age are:

Early development in the following…

  1. Taking turns.
  2. Sharing attention.
  3. Enjoying activities with other people.

For example:

Skill: Kicking

Drill: Kicking the target while walking down the mat and counting each kick.

Benefits: In this drill the students will practice the early stages of kicking while walking, counting and striking a target.

Many children within this age group have a hard time kicking while walking, alternating legs, counting, and striking a target.

They have a tendency of favoring the dominant leg. They also tend to kick higher with this leg, so this drill will help them PHSICALLY increase the power and flexibility in their non-dominant leg by having them hit a target set up at a higher than normal level, which is at waist level or higher.

To make it even more challenging, they usually don’t have the INTELLECTUAL capacity to both focus on counting and striking a target while walking and kicking.

This drill enables them to practice EMOTIONAL development by persevering through a task that is challenging for the average child in their stage of development.

As you can see, we know how to take a simple drill and turn it into a drill that has VALUE.

It’s all in your mindset about drills and how they target age-specific benefits.

Sincerely, Master Low

Realistic Behavioral Expectations What to Expect from 3- and 4-year old’s


Cildren between the ages of 3 and 4 are at a very unique growth period in their lives. They are growing at a rapid rate in all areas of development and are discovering new things daily, while also learning how to cope with new challenges. Additionally, they are in pursuit of autonomy, which can lead to behavioral issues that the adults in their lives often become frustrated with. The problem comes in because most adults have unrealistic expectations of how 3- and 4-yearold’s should behave. This is mainly based on the assumption by the adult that this rapid development will progress in only a positive behavioral direction. The fact is, as with any growth, there will be new issues that present themselves and old issues that may still arise.In addition, children’s behaviors are not consistent or predictable.Gaining knowledge of age-appropriate behaviors for 3- and 4-year old’s is essential to helping instill positive behaviors. At this age, because they are learning new things, 3- and 4-year old’s may become more defiant as they see how far they can push limits. They may also become frustrated or anxious when trying new things because their motor skills are not as developed and their attempts at things may not go as planned. This can lead to behavior problems such as tantrums and defiance.To assist them in making better behavior choices, its important that adults are calm, clear, and consistent. In the heat of a tantrum, it is often very difficult to remain calm, but this is vital. It is also important to be clear in the rules that are set and maintain consistency with this daily. Giving choices also helps children become more autonomous which will lead to more confidence. Catch them being good and reward positive behaviors.In the SKILLZ program, our instructors are trained on how to reinforce proper development and behavior with little or no disciplinary action. This positive learning atmosphere makes learning and growing fun. Self-esteem also plays an important role in how well 3- and 4-year old’s learn and grow. Utilizing edutainment and communicating clear rules and directions set the tone for each class. The instructors also connect with each student to make the environment warm and positive.And, as with any well-rounded children’s program, the teaching team of parent and instructor is of the upmost importance. Creating consistency between school and home, makes for an easier transition through this rapid growth period for 3- and 4-year old’s.Remember, growth is exciting, but the progress is often followed by some backtracking…that is just part of growing up. As Ross A. Thompson, Ph.D., a child-development researcher and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis says, “The part of a child’s brain that controls his impulses and emotions matures very, very slowly. It’s easy to assume that kids are being uncooperative or obstinate when really they’re just acting their age.” Be patient and consistent and the behavioral changes that this age group experiences will go more smoothly.


Master Low

Tip #2: Put your child on a brain-strengthening diet

Not all diets are for weight loss. Even children that have great athletic physiques are susceptible to the after-effects of poor eating habits, including fatigue, anxiety, poor concentration, and mood swings. You can help your child feel better each school day simply by adjusting their diet and getting rid of foods and snacks that are counter-productive.

Here are some healthy eating tips:

  1. Purge the bad foods in your house. Open your refrigerator and get rid of the foods you know are unhealthy for your children including sodas, snacks that are high in sugar, and foods that are high in fat.
  2. Create a healthy menu. Sit down with your child and create a breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack menu together. Create at least three different healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and snack time and allow them to choose what they want to eat each day. If your children help with the process, they will be more intrinsically motivated to stick with the diet. You can make it fun by having them design a fun menu with their meal options and also have them go to the grocery store and help pick out all of the ingredients. If you are struggling with how to create a proper diet, do some research or speak with a licensed dietitian that can help make a list of heart and brain-healthy foods.
  3. Lead by example. If your children see you eating unhealthy foods then you are contradicting what you say. Children are smart, and they will fight you on this subject if you don’t lead by example yourself. On the bright side, this is a great way for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle too!
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