Teaching Martial Arts To Challenging Students

By Kevin

Martial arts continues to become more popular and has developed the reputation of being able to make life changes in many people. With this reputation, more and more parents are bringing their problem/challenging children to us, hoping that we can make a difference in their lives. Although there is no easy way to change or improve their behavior overnight, here are some simple guidelines that, if used correctly, can keep these students moving in the right direction for lifelong benefits.

10 Tips for Teaching Challenging Students:

1. Don’t pre-judge.
Teachers have to believe in their students. If the teacher doesn’t believe in the student, the student has very little chance to succeed. All good teachers have seen what many people consider a hopeless student develop into a fine example-setter. As teachers, our role is to believe that all students, regardless of how they appear, have the potential for greatness. The truth is that way down inside, each child has wonderful, untapped possibilities.

2. Develop rapport.
Friendship, trust and, most importantly, respect are the qualities that need to be developed between the instructor and the students. If children respect, trust and like you, they will be much more receptive to your input.

3. Keep your temper.
Question: “Who is a mighty person?” Answer: “Those who have self-control over their emotions and can make friends of their enemies.” Teachers should only raise their voices with a student if that is what the student needs to hear, not because the teacher has lost control. It is very easy to become angry and take disciplinary action with a disruptive student. Remember however, “THE OVERUSE OF PUNISHMENT STRENGTHENS THE POWER OF DEFIANCE.”

4. Don’t threaten unless you plan to follow up.
Idle threats quickly become useless when not followed by action. If you say you are going to do something, make sure you do it, and make sure that everyone knows that you did. By doing so, the students will be less likely to test you.

5. Be fair, make sure the punishment fits the crime.
In taking disciplinary action, be sure to be consistent. Being too easy one time and overly hard the next confuses people.

6. Catch them doing something right.
Most challenged kids only receive attention when they are doing something wrong. Sometimes they will act up just to get attention. To break this habit, go out of your way to watch them closely and praise positive behavior, even when it is something minor.

7. Ask questions.
During a disciplinary discussion, ask leading questions and avoid the temptation to lecture. Your influence will be much more powerful if you can get them to tell you why they should or should not do something, rather than you telling them.

8. Expectations and feedback.
Constantly give these students small, easily achievable goals and keep them apprised of their progress.

9. Seek first to understand (empathize).
Throughout all your interactions, try to see where your students are coming from. You don’t have to agree with their viewpoint, just try to understand it.

10. Know when to say No – when to discontinue training a consistently disruptive child.
Remember, every now and then you will come across a student that just isn’t right for your program or continually causes issues with other students. When this happens it is time to ask the parents not to bring little Jimmy to class anymore, or not to bring him to class unless they can assure you he will behave by the rules you establish for Jimmy. Sometimes you have to take in to consideration the good of the many over the good of the few.

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