(Reposted from Master Perdue of Westerville OH)
I was working with a little girl the other day that was as cute as a bug. She had the kind of smile that could make any adult just melt and spoil her. AND SHE KNEW IT! It was obvious she had used her charms many times on her parents and teachers. How could I tell? Because any time things got slightly difficult, she would immediately ask for help from one of the instructors before even attempting to try to do it on her own. Of course, they were just too happy to comply. Unfortunately for her, my daughter was the exact same way and over time I became immune to such attempts.
On this day, I was trying to show her a rather simple kicking combination that required more balance than her belt level was used to doing. Sure, I knew she would have trouble with it at first. But I also knew her, and the other students in class, could all do it with a little effort, focus and practice. Hey, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing. After demonstrating the technique a few times, I had them all practice the combination. Sure enough, when it was her turn, my little cutie pie attempted the combination twice and when she didn’t immediately succeed, she turned to me and said “I need help!”
Now, as an instructor, I have to admit, I get a real kick when this sort of thing happens. “Really, let me see it again so I can see what you are doing wrong.” She stuck out her little tongue, picked up her foot and tried again. This time a little better than the last. “I’m not sure, can you do it again.” This time she did it even better. “Oh, I see what you need.” She looked up at me. “You don’t need help, you need PRACTICE!” That is when she realized that her cute trick didn’t work. She rolled her eyes, sighed, stuck out her tongue and kept trying. While she didn’t completely get the kick down, she made great progress and I am sure she will get that combination in no time.
One of the things I have always guarded against, both as a parent and as an instructor, is swooping in and fixing things too soon when the kids are having problems with something. Real lasting development never comes easy; which is why it lasts forever and never has to be retaught. The next time your child struggles, whether it is something physical or their math homework, smile and say “You can do it. You just need PRACTICE!”