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Three Cures for Disrespectful Teens

The Key to Working with Teens Starts by Understanding How They Think

For me martial arts training was a real privilege.  I loved martial arts so much that my parents used it as there favorite take away if I was not behaving well.

Parent – “No more video games”

Me – “So what.”

Parent – “No martial arts until you get your grades up.”

Me – “I’ll go study.”

If you are an instructor or owner of a martial arts academy then your passion and enthusiasm were likely on par with mine.  You may however have teens that are not ‘little soldiers’ when you call “Ready Stance”. These simple three cures can make a big difference in getting your teens to perform at there very best.

Cure #1 Pace the Class

It can be a real challenge (and in some cases impossible) to shift your emotions from one extreme to another.  Going from fear to confidence is a bit of a jump.  This is true with teens.  The average teen wants to look cool, have friends and be well liked by peers.  They feel nervous about doing anything that will make them stick out (in a negative way) in the crowd.  Ed Parker would stress the importance of analyzing the situation from three view points; yours, the opponent and a neutral party.  So you know your view point consider the teens, then consider what the parent might be thinking when they watch your class.

Do not turn this into a good guy bad guy thing or a I’m right, they are wrong.  Seeing things from their point of view will pay big in the long term.  Once your realize going from cool to respectful is a big jump you can get on your students side and bridge the gap from these two extremes.  Cool – Curious – Interested – Fun and Excited – Respectful

Cure #2 Feedback

Praise your students – Start to form a new habit.  Every time you ask your students to do something after they do the work give some type of praise.  Every single time.  Push ups…. Good set.  Wall kicks… Wow Steve your kick is getting up there.  Self defense… Nice work everyone that was excellent control.  Every single time you ask for work to be done, be willing to praise when the work is done.

Praise sincerely – I’m not suggesting false feedback.  If the teen throws a weak kick with almost no effort it’s ok (and very effective) to say, “ok thats a start.”  The praise is what matters.  The good energy creates a momentum that will make your class more fun to teach and more fun to take.

Praise in levels – Get really excited when your students perform really well.  Don’t be afraid to celebrate (or even get teary eyed) when a student really shines.  What? You expect me to cry in my class?  If you are living with passion, then sometimes your eyes leak.

Cure #3 Talk to them like adults

Teens don’t want to feel like little kids.  Talk to them like adults.  Expect adult behavior.  We have a real advantage on this because we are teaching people how to fight.  Violence is an adult topic, one that requires a level of maturity and responsibility.  It also requires a level of discipline, and intensity.  It requires a real approach and has life and death consequence.  “Do a technique wrong you can end up in a box.  Loose your self control and you can end up in a cage.”  I don’t mind talking like that to my teens.

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