All parents want the same thing…for their child to be a positive member of society and experience success. And while these are essential, they often come through a push to achieve and be the best in everything.
Unfortunately, this often manifests as a comparison to other children. This comparison, 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 development of the Inspire martial arts program included implementing pre- evaluations for every new student that assist with placing children in the class that meets their stage of development.
It is unfair to have a 5-year old in the same class as a 10-year old and to expect the same outcomes from them.
Thus, the age levels in each Inspire program were split based on research in the areas of science and psychology. This age-specific placement helps to target children’s skills and abilities, so they aren’t too challenging or too easy.
The layout of each level focuses on the developmentally appropriate needs of that age group. However, parents sometimes still compare their child to others in the classroom.
For example, in the Inspire, one child may achieve the agility skill faster, while another child may meet the concentration skill requirements more quickly. There is nothing to worry about; they will each perform 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 innovative martial arts 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 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 if our goal is to instill self-esteem and drive. Besides, if we could all do the same thing at every level, what fun would that be?
We have to remember to meet children where they are in their individual development. From there, we can help them excel in the areas of their strength and help them improve in the areas that are more challenging for them.
It is important to 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 than will unhealthy comparison to their peers’ abilities. 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.”