Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Next Karate Kid

Jonah has been attending karate classes for a month now. Twice a week, with a variety of kids in his age range (4-5 year old), both boys and girls. I'll be honest with you, I only went along with it because Jonah seemed really interested, AND the school allows you to attend the entire first month for free, to see if the kids like it, before you toss the $$ down the drain for all the goods that go along with doing karate. Well, one class in, and this kid was hooked. So many things that the instructor went over seemed to resonate with Jonah, and the constant repetition of "following directions" and "teaching respect" showed me that this karate thing is a whole lot more than kicking and hitting. Don't get me wrong, even now, I still am trying to figure out how to get a 4 year old to clearly understand that there is a specific time and place for karate techniques (and head-butting your sister is certainly not one of those), but I do believe as time goes on and he begins to live karate, instead of just attend a class a few times a week, these things will become second nature. I am already seeing the respect and maturity slowly emerge from Jonah at home. It's nice, and scary, too.

Jonah is a people-pleaser. It's just his way. But a result of this is that he is also more of a follower than a leader, and this holds true while in karate class as well. I have found (as this was prevalent when he was going to preschool too), that if the other kids are calm and behaving, Jonah normally will too. And the same thing goes for if there are other "energetic" and "rowdy" kids around him too, which is far more likely to occur at karate....and it does. (I will be the first to say that my kid is NOT perfect and there are plenty of times when he acts and does things he shouldn't, in all aspects of his life. But rarely is he the root the chaos, if you know what I mean. I don't know these other kids situations, if they are just hyper or have some other medical issues causing the energy, and I won't judge, at all.) The other day, there were only 5 kids in class, all boys (we sometimes have 10-12 kids in class, with a few girls tossed in to the mix), but this particular day, not many kids were there. One kid started getting rowdy, then they all followed in and it became an out of control mess. Kids not listening. Rough-housing. Jumping all over. Being disrespectful. Not aggressive, just extremely out of control and overly energetic. They were having fun. TOO MUCH fun to be exact!

And I was torn! I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to under mind the instructor. I almost always stay back and even if Jonah gets a little too rowdy or doesn't say "Yes Sir" or forgets to bow at the right time (and so on and so on....), I leave those 30 minutes up to the instructor. All of us parents are sitting in the room, so I feel if it got extremely out of hand he would call upon us to intervene. And maybe that's what he should have done this time. Thrown in the towel and left us up to disciplining them. But he didn't. And frankly, I think he was a bit too lenient on them. I would have been fine with Jonah having to do some sort of exercise or stand at attention for 5 minutes, to aid in teaching him a lesson. Obviously, I did not take Jonah out of class and have a "long, hard talk with him", I waited until class was over, and immediately went over what he had done that was unacceptable, what he could do differently next class, and that if this behavior continued, that he would no longer be allowed to go to karate school. I could see in his eyes he knew he had done wrong, and I left it at that. Two days later, class time came again, and I made sure in the car ride to the school we discussed it again, as well as having a quick pep talk directly before class to make sure it sank in.

It seemed to work, because as all the other kids were running around at the beginning of class, Jonah went directly to the line and stood "At Show" for a good minute or two, waiting for class to start. He also the only student in the class to answer some questions the instructor asked ("What are the 7 signs of respect?" ~ 'Yes Sir, No Sir, Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am, Please, Thank You, You're Welcome').

So, what would you have done? Would you have handled this situation any differently?

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