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What to do when your kid wants to quit Martial Arts?

As with any extracurricular activity, there may come a time where your child for whatever reason whines or complains about coming to class or even says they want to quit Martial Arts.

Typically, when a child wants to quit a sport, we remind them that we committed to said sport for the season and that they would be letting down their team, their coach and themselves if they quit before the season is up. With Martial Arts, it is a year-round activity, and for some a lifetime or at least a longtime commitment. So, the real question becomes if your child wants to quit Martial Arts, as the parent, do you let them?

1. Re-evaluate why you started in the first place. Do you see value in the Martial Arts program? At Harvest we truly believe that we are cultivating character and we see it shine through our Junior and Adult Black Belts! We instill positive optimism, build mental and physical strength while setting and achieving high goals. Students of all ages practice discipline and self-control while building muscle memory, learning respect, and gaining confidence. And of course, we hope our students are having fun and making new friends while getting some exercise in the process. So, you need to ask yourself as a parent, do you see these as core values for your family, and do you feel like Harvest, or your Martial Arts School is providing these values for your child? If you don’t believe in the core values of Martial Arts, how can you expect your child to?

2. Can we just take a break? Many students want to take a break to join another sport or extra-curricular activity for a particular season. While we understand schedules can be tight there can be room for multiple activities. We typically recommend students come to class a minimum of 2-3 times per week to keep up with the curriculum, but we understand there are seasons where you may make it to class less often. We encourage students to not quit, but just to work hard when you are in class and practice at home. Martial Arts movements can actually improve your success in other physical activities, and sports. Consider it extra training. Additionally, students who take a break also have a hard time coming back. When they return, they find that their peers have now out-ranked them in belt, or they’ve simply lost interest as the newness has worn off. They may forget the basics they knew, and it can take time to catch back up which can add to their frustration. It should be noted, however that some students are able to take a short break and come back and have a new excitement and passion for it after some time off.

3. A little bit of whining and complaining is normal. It is normal for a kid to put up a fight to go to anywhere. Even as adults, it’s likely the majority of us don’t show up regularly to all of our commitments – work, parenting, the gym, social obligations, etc. with an enthusiastic attitude every single day. Obviously, that would be the goal, but it’s not always reality. We all go through seasons. Talk about what’s going on – maybe it’s as simple as they need a snack before class, they aren’t getting enough sleep, or maybe they need to be going to class on a different day to switch up the routine. Maybe something happened in class that caused fear or anxiety that needs to be addressed.

4. Talk to an instructor or an even higher rank student. Instructors want to know what’s going on in students’ lives and if they are having a hard time coming to class, we would love to talk about it and see if we can help. Or reach out to a higher rank or older student. We guarantee there have been times for almost every black belt or higher rank student where they wanted to quit or struggled to show up. Instead, they persevered through those times and are stronger on the other side. This, is how black belts are made.

5. Get Involved. At Harvest we try to build community for the whole family. We offer monthly Parents’ Night Outs and Seasonal Camps to help the kids get to know one another, as well as our instructors outside classes. We also LOVE to see our parents get on the mat for any of our classes. If you want to see your kid beaming, put on a uniform and step onto the mat for one of our adult Han Mu Do Classes. We have an incredible group of likeminded adults and parents building each other up and cheering each other on. Show your kid that you hold value in the principles of Martial Arts. Additionally, we offer Yoga, Kickboxing, Tai Chi, Archery and Self Defense classes as well as personal training and one on one sessions, show them you value the importance of exercise.

6. Address the fear. When students signed up as white belts, it was fun, a shiny new uniform, the sky was the limit, they were making new friends and every class was new and different. After a few testing cycles, they may say they are bored, they know the routine and they want to move on to the next new shiny activity. But Martial Arts is a long-term goal. From white to black belt, it usually takes several years, and each belt rank is a baby step to the end goal. A lot of students want to quit when things get hard, mundane or when the end goal seems too far away. Because our curriculum builds upon itself, as students rank up, things get more challenging, and it is easy to want to quit. This is when we need to remind them (and possibly remind ourselves as parents) why we signed up for Marital Arts in the first place. Martial Arts will continue to increase our confidence and help us to face fearful situations with strength and courage in all areas of our life.

7. If you decide to make a move from Martial Arts, what is next? We do understand what we offer may not be what you are looking for. For whatever reason this may not be a good fit for your child or your family. We encourage you however if you move on from Martial Arts, to enroll your child in something that gives them the physical fitness that all kids need. Allow them to try all the physical activities until they find that one that lets them shine. Maybe sports aren’t their thing, maybe they aren’t athletic or coordinated or interested – but please don’t overlook the fact that kids need to move their bodies. While we love and fully support the less physical arts, movement for children (and adults) is important for their physical as well as their mental health.

If you or your child is struggling to come to classes or has thought about quitting, please reach out to one of our Instructors, we would love to see how we can help!

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