Ten Ways Taekwondo Improves Your Child’s Confidence
by GM Fred Parks
When parents want experts to assist with the development of their child, they often turn to Taekwondo training. There are some parents who enroll their child because he or she begs to learn, as media does serve to spread awareness though it often paints an incorrect picture of martial arts. However, a child ends up in the class, many benefits await. One benefit is how effectively Taekwondo can improve a child’s confidence.
Confidence is key to child development. It can lay the foundation upon which other skills are built. It can give a child the courage he or she needs to try new things or remain unaffected by peer pressure. Taekwondo and the confidence that it produces can give a child a taste for the more positive things in life.
Building a child’s confidence can be a tricky, as the way it can be inspired varies; each child is an individual with unique feelings, perspectives, and experiences. Though what works to build one child’s self-confidence might not work for the next, the many ways Taekwondo can boost it leaves room for the benefit to be had by all who enroll: there’s a route in it to deeper self-confidence for all students.
It Improves their fitness level
Even though self-confidence, or the lack thereof, is a feature of the mind, its level can be influenced by the condition of the body. A child who is physically fit may have more confidence than one who’s not. It depends on what he or she values and the content of their self-perception. Physical fitness can also contribute to self-confidence through the heightened abilities that usually accompany it; the child has the strength, stamina, and coordination that empowers them to achieve more.
Taekwondo training is vigorous activity. The kicks and other moves give the body a great workout. Students may quickly begin to shed excess fat and develop muscle. Many aspects of their fitness are improved through the training. It can help children gain a fitness level that’s beyond average. And it can be a great pick for a child who struggles with obesity, for example. Those who are slender may find that the added tone gives them a great physique. Though the results may vary due to a variety of factors, all students who stay in the program are sure to reap some benefit to their physical selves – and that can have a positive impact on their mindsets.
Feeling physically inferior can have a disastrous effect on a child’s development, potentially destroying any self-confidence they have. Although there are those who grow up to rise above this challenge, children should be helped to feel good about themselves. They should be healthy. All of this leads to greater confidence.
It helps their self-discipline
Children need discipline, but not all of it should come from the adults in their lives; an increasing amount of it must come from within – it’s the path to independence and adulthood success. One of the biggest goals of disciplining a child isn’t to get them to behave so that the grownups can have a moment of sanity, but to have them internalize the virtue so that it translates into self-discipline. The child becomes capable of operating responsibly on their own, becoming capable of setting goals and achieving them. Having a good measure of self-discipline can help the child become capable and accomplished, nurturing their confidence.
Teaching a child self-discipline can be a big challenge, but Taekwondo can help in a big way. The child’s will can become aligned with instruction as their desire to master and advance inspires their cooperation. The principles of respect, discernment, and hard work, for example, that are taught to Taekwondo students all lend to greater discipline. Students may adopt the values taught as their own, internalizing the discipline and caring it with them throughout life.
Self-discipline requires self-control. And self-control can be highly effective at depending on confidence. The child becomes more resistant to peer pressure as they maintain and control over their own will. It helps them have the courage to be their own person and think for themselves, not going along with the crowd. They come to trust themselves more, confident that they can make the right decisions and follow through on their choices.
It gives them an encouraging mentor
Even though self-confidence should make a person resistant to how others perceive them, it’s normal for a child to measure his or herself by how the adults in their world value them. When a child knows they are loved and valued by their parents, a good foundation for self-confidence is laid. But it’s not just the parent/child relationship that matters, for the child also needs to find their esteem in other people who they interact with, as they must one day take their place in the world. Having a strong and caring mentor can go a long way to helping a child develop confidence – martial arts instructors often make great mentors.
Dedicated Taekwondo students are passionate. Their aim is to mirror or go beyond the skills of the master. Even if a child doesn’t have much passion when he or she starts training, that passion can soon develop as their skills advance and they learn what Taekwondo is all about. And they grow a bond with the instructor. And the instructor supports and encourages them, believing in their abilities. Feeling how greatly the instructor esteems him or her and hoping to have some of that greatness of the instructor, the child’s confidence begins to grow.
Of course, this paints a picture of an ideal scenario. Parents should do their diligence in finding the right martial arts instructor for their child. But the story is a common one and not an exception or phenomenon. Having any type of positive mentor can have a positive effect on a child’s confidence. Martial arts training, however, can boost a child’s confidence in this and many other ways.
They become part of a supportive team
Having a great Taekwondo teacher is a wonderful thing but the instructor isn’t the only one in the class who can have a positive influence on the child’s confidence levels. Martial arts training usually takes place in a group setting. The students work together and encourage one another so that all may advance in skill. Although a person’s martial arts skill is measured only on his or her own ability, there’s a lot of focus on teamwork when learning the art in a class.
Taekwondo students are unlike students of academic classes. For starters, attending regular school is compulsory whereas martial arts training is not. The students are there because they are passionate about learning. They are focused on advancing their skills. They come to class with an entirely different attitude and their intellectual and emotional maturity are encouraged by the rules of the dojo and the instructor. It’s an atmosphere of respect, discipline, and motivation. The students enjoy the support of their peers and encourage each other in positive ways.
Interactions with the other students in a Taekwondo class can help to boost a child’s confidence. They get to be treated with respect. They get to develop their physique while being encouraged by their peers. Bullying is not tolerated. The ethics and virtues the students are taught are inherent in martial arts, benefiting them both in and out the dojo and giving them the confidence that can take them far in life – it’s a whole new world.
It shows them they’re worth protecting
It’s one thing to lead a safe life and another to be willing and equipped to fight for your own protection. Having the skill and attitude to be effective at self-defense both mentally and physically can a big difference in a child’s confidence. The parent or guardian’s shows of protection over a child can be taken by the child as that adult’s responsibility. He or she may think of it as a quality of the parent or guardian and not an indicator of their own value. While displays of parental protection can boost a child’s self-esteem, it’s not the same as the confidence self-protection generates and demands.
Of course, it’s ideal that self-protection never need be used in the real world. Children should be safe from attackers. None of this is to suggest, therefore, that a child be placed in a real-life situation where he or she must engage in self-defense for confidence’s sake, but self-defense is a show of self-love. In the process of learning martial arts for self-defense, a timid student can become more willing to stand up for him or herself, and that takes confidence as well as courage.
It can help them realize their own value. They may come to realize that the bullies, naysayers, and other negative people don’t have the story right. The child learns to discern friend from foe on a much deeper level. The self-protection skills they master manifest themselves not only physically but mentally and emotionally. And the child matures as their confidence levels rise.
They come to feel safer
The world can be an intimidating place, especially when you’re a child. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood the child live in or where they go to school. Without the ability to defend themselves, the child can feel weak and powerless. It’s not about the action of defense but about having that assurance inside that if a dangerous situation ever arises there’s an alternative to being helpless.
Children often aren’t oblivious to what goes on the world regardless of how much their sheltered. Most are aware of the possibility that they may encounter a bully or attacker. It makes some overly nervous. They come to lack confidence out of fear, but martial arts can be a powerful remedy. It teaches them highly effective self-defense strategies that help make them a harder target. It also keeps them safe by teaching them methods to avoid physical confrontations, setting them freer to enjoy life without worry.
Displays of lack of confidence are often misguided defense strategies a child employs to keep him or herself safe. Without the burden of fear, which is limiting and oppressive, the child can become free to express who they are and display confidence. Exercising confidence is a great way to strengthen it, so as the child grows in martial arts ability and the feeling of safety their confidence levels can grow exponentially. Martial arts helps children learn to walk with their heads held high, striking that perfect balance of humbleness where ability is factual, used with discernment, and serve as a foundation upon which confidence can stand.
It teaches them assertiveness
Assertiveness and confidence are deeply intertwined; hardly can one go without the other. Yet it’s difficult to be competent in martial arts and not be assertive. Taekwondo training is, therefore, a great way to build the confidence of a child. The assertiveness martial arts requires doesn’t just show up amid action but becomes an ingrained quality of the student, always sticking with them. Even if a child lacks confidence when they first embark upon their journey to become skilled in martial arts, the assertiveness that they practice during training can quickly become habit, bringing confidence along with it.
It’s important not to confuse assertiveness with aggression. Taekwondo teaches students the difference between the two. Aggression is for bullies, and it often comes as a result of a lack of confidence. Assertiveness is speaking up, being present, and having the humility to acknowledge the greatness of your own power without denying that of others. A good portion of martial arts training is practicing being assertive, and assertiveness is an exercise in confidence. It breaks through the walls behind which their confidence hides, allowing it to come forth and be displayed. They get a taste of what it feels like and that opens the way for them to achieve even more progress.
There are many ways Taekwondo training teaches children to be assertive. Not only does mastering the moves require assertiveness in action but the principles and values taught also demand it. Being in a martial arts class is a different type of environment; it’s one where students learn that being assertive doesn’t clash with respect but compliments it instead. The confidence that results from being part of this environment is stable and deep, becoming a true asset to the learner.
It serves as an outlet for stress relief
Have you ever heard that stress is one of the number one killers? It causes adverse health conditions such as high blood pressure. It causes one to lose their ability to concentrate and even undermines memory. A person wrapped up in stress can be too distracted with the pain to come across as confident. They become engulfed and inflamed by their frustrations. Stress affects adults and can have a disastrous effect on children. One side effect of stress in children is an inability to act with confidence, but martial arts training can help.
Physical activity is notorious for being an effective and healthy way to relieve stress. It causes the release of endorphins, causing the person to feel better. It can give their mind a break from what’s been bothering them, or it can serve as a physical release to the frustration. Relieving stress after you’ve been in its deathly grip for so long is like a breath of fresh air. For children, getting that relief can prove important to their development. As they work through and let go of the stress their confidence is allowed to emerge.
Have you ever felt so angry that you felt like hitting something? Taekwondo teaches children self-control so that they learn not to strike out of emotion alone, but in practicing the moves in the safe environment of the class they’re given the opportunity to get out some of those hits and kicks and learn to channel their energy the right way – it can be a very healing process.
It opens more opportunities for them to achieve
There’s nothing like recognition and achieving a goal to boost a child’s confidence. They come to believe in their own abilities and trust themselves to get the work done. Martial arts training is about far more than just attack and defense; participating in the classes can put the student on track to receive many honors and recognitions as they become accomplished and grow in skill. As they grow in this expertise and watch themselves progress their confidence levels can climb.
Although Taekwondo isn’t for boasting, there is a certain satisfaction with the self that comes from learning the moves, finding deeper meaning in the teachings, and learning how to apply the principles to everyday life. It’s the same type of satisfaction an athlete feels after they’ve worked hard, made the team, and won a game – it’s a deserved, non-egotistical feeling that motivates one to move forward with achieving even greater things and it can serve a child well.
That’s not even to mention the opportunities that await the child who wants to stay in martial arts for the long run and advance and compete. They’ll get many chances to achieve honors, each time adding that much more to their confidence. Unlike with many sports, the true martial artist takes a loss as a lesson and gives themselves the credit due for the attempt, knowing that celebrating their progress can lead to bigger and better victories – a mindset taught in the best martial arts classes. Whether win or not the child’s confidence can continue to be nurtured by participating in this type of training.
They get a new view on negative people
Having to deal with bullies and negative people can chip away at a child’s self-confidence and how they feel about themselves. They try to share their dreams with others only to be made fun of. They don’t even have to open themselves up for the hurt to be hurt – people can be cruel. Many adults talk about how they had to overcome the traumas of their childhood that were a result of being picked on or talked about or treated in an unfavorable way. Often the thing that causes the mistreatment to sting so bad is having first perceived the attacker as being a friend.
Taekwondo can give a child a new take on the negative people in their lives. They come to stop seeing the people who speak ill of their present or future as having any power at all. Martial arts teaches the child that he or she is the one with the power to determine how their lives will go; it teaches them that they are capable of more than they assume they can do, reaching beyond the bounds of their abilities to uncover confidence-building greatness. The child learns discernment, self-control, and a number of other qualities that can throw their ‘haters’ off track.
The effect of negative people often has more impact on children than it does on adults, though they may affect both. For this reason, it is important that children learn how to handle and free themselves from such abuse people, identifying who they are and taking the measures necessary to slide by their influences safely. When a child is equipped with such skill, their confidence gains a buffer and given room to grow. And there’s nothing quite like martial arts to help children gain that skill.
Building your child’s confidence through martial arts
It can be frustrating, even heartbreaking to watch your child suffer from a lack of confidence. Their talent, abilities, even personality can be hidden behind a mask of protection designed to keep who they are from the world, fearing rejection and embarrassment. That can have a negative impact on their success as an adult, keeping them from the career, money, spouse, and overall lifestyle that they want and deserve. As a parent, you crave a solution but it’s not always easy to find. Yet many parents find the solution that they need in martial arts training for children.
When it comes to the world of martial arts, starting young is great and opens the way for more advanced skill. But Taekwondo training isn’t just for those children who’ve expressed a desire to become a master. The training can benefit all regardless of who they want to be when they grow up. Martial arts can give children the mental, emotional, and physical skills they need to achieve their goals when it comes to things like determination, discernment, and self-discipline – all of which can add up to a major confidence booster.
For the child who struggles with confidence Taekwondo offers much. It gives them a supporting mentor as well as a team they can truly be a part of. It gives them an outlet for their frustrations and helps to improve their physique. Martial arts also can help them feel safer and learn how to tell who to trust. You just might be amazed at the impact and benefits martial arts training has for your child.
About the author: Grand Master Fred Parks is the Dean of the USNTA International Academy https://usnta.net and a senior consultant for the World Martial Arts Marketing Program https://worldmartialartsmarketing.com . He can be reached through his school website site at https://americandragonkoreanmartialarts.com .