Monday, December 1, 2008

Practicing builds confidence

My son’s TaeKwonDo instructor, Master Shin, often tells the kids that if they want to be confident when it comes time to test for the next belt level, they must practice regularly. The testing involves both physical activities like kicking and punching plus mental activities like being able to recite Korean words. He reminds them that the only way they will have confidence on testing day is if they have been steadily practicing.

He’s right. As an observer on testing day it’s easy to see who has been practicing and who tried to cram for the test … especially when it comes to the Korean vocabulary!

What does this have to do with parenting? I’ve spoken to a number of parents who are upset when their teenagers start making more decisions and are struggling to make good decisions. All teens need to gain their independence and part of this is making their own decisions. If we want our teens to be wise decision makers, they need to be practicing ahead of time.

This is why it is so important to allow younger children to make decisions and experience consequences. For example, it may be easier simply to tell your 9-year-old when it’s time to go to bed, however, if you leave him in charge of when to go to bed, he will learn a lot more. Allowing children to make many decisions when they are young builds their confidence so when “teenage testing day” arrives they can handle it with confidence!
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