I get it. This parenting gig is no joke. From the moment they’re born, we’re on the clock 24/7/365, doing everything in our power to take care of them, nurture them, and keep them safe, all while preparing them for the world they soon enough will have to handle on their own. We sign them up for soccer, martial arts, gymnastics, math tutoring and piano lessons, and then shuttle them from one appointment to the next. We joke that “they don’t come with a manual,” while sifting through but a small sliver of the thousands of books written on parenting.
I am no parenting expert – I don’t have a PhD in child psychology, nor early childhood development, and I haven’t written any books. Like many, I’ve put in my time, making plenty of mistakes along the way. I can only hope that, in the final ledger, my successes outweigh my blunders. As of this writing, my two oldest are nearing self-sufficient adulthood in college and the military, while I’m still in the trenches with a tween in middle school.
So far, so good…
I started teaching children over a decade before the arrival of my firstborn, and have been ever since. Therefore, my perspective comes as much from my experiences as a teacher and a coach as it does a parent, for the three are inextricably intertwined. As one parent to another, let me just say…
Take a break.
You’ve chosen to enroll your child in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) for any number of a variety of reasons: fitness, fun, strength, conditioning, self-defense, sport, self-discipline, self-esteem, etc. I promise you that each of these are natural by-products of the training. I also promise you that all of us who coach your child are motivated by the same desire: to help each individual who dares to step on the mat accomplish their goals.
I know it’s hard to let go, and that you only want what’s best for your child. You might even believe you’re helping us, but your engagement with your child while they are on the mat is completely counter-productive to your goals. They should be building rapport with their coach, focusing on the lessons of the class, and engaging with their partners; everything else is a distraction.
Once your child steps on the mat, take a break. Let us do our job, and let your child partake fully in what BJJ has to offer.