Many adults study taekwondo, but for many adults their primary exposure to taekwondo is simply as the parent of young taekwondo students. In the U.S. for instance, thousands upon thousands of parents across the country take their young children to taekwondo schools in the cities and suburbs several times each week.
This post is for adults who are not themselves studying taekwondo, but who would like to learn more about how to help their children succeed in taekwondo.
First Tip: Consider becoming a taekwondo student yourself. This advice isn’t practical for all parents of course, but consider:
- If you’re sitting in a taekwondo school for 45 minutes three times a week anyway, waiting for your child to finish his or her lesson…why not kill two birds with one stone and get some exercise? Many taekwondo schools encourage students and parents to take classes together. You have to be there anyway to watch your child, why not get a workout in while you’re there?
Chance to Learn: Even if you don’t take taekwondo classes yourself, parenting a taekwondo student is a great opportunity to learn more about taekwondo yourself. The more you engage in learning the terminology and learning about the techniques, the more fun you and your child can have together in the child’s taekwondo journey. This post has nearly everything you need to learn about taekwondo and support your child’s efforts.
During Class: A lot of taekwondo “tips for parents” websites list some fairly common-sense things in this category. For example, make sure your child gets to class on time. That’s important because the first few minutes of class are stretching and warmup — those are needed to prevent injuries. Help your child put on his belt before class, and make sure the knot is snug so that it doesn’t unravel during class. Tying a belt is actually easier than tying shoes, so even younger children can be taught to tie their own belts, which helps mitigate the unraveling-problem.
Stay Home when you’re Sick: Taekwondo is a challenging aerobic workout. If your child is feeling under the weather, it’s not a good idea to take him or her to class. And, of course, that helps prevent colds and flus from spreading among all the students in the school. Likewise, if your child injures a joint (mild muscle pulls or tendon sprains are common) let the joint fully heal before resuming workouts.
Nails: Taekwondo of course includes a lot of punching and kicking! It’s easy to catch a fingernail or toenail during class and pull it back by accident. Keep nails short though and you’ll have no problems.
Learning Taekwondo Forms: Young children often demonstrate good aptitude for the kicking and striking techniques used in taekwondo. Where young children sometimes struggle though is with all the memorization required in taekwondo classes. For example, to advance from one belt to the next, children have to memorize new forms.
- Try to make some time to do “homework” with your child using the diagrams and instructions you have. Even though you don’t know all the steps in the form, your child probably knows most of them, and just needs a little coaching to remember the next step when he or she gets stuck. Equipped with your handy printout, you have the information you need to help coach them when they get stuck.
- You can also print the diagrams or instructions out and tack them onto the refrigerator door, or your child’s bedroom bulletin board. That way, even when you’re not coaching your child through their taekwondo homework, they still have a helpful reference that’s always handy.
- For very young children, you can also practice the forms together using action figures or dolls. That’s a great way to put some fun into your taekwondo homework.
Praise Improve Praise: Many taekwondo instructors are taught the Praise Improve Praise (also called Praise Correct Praise) method — when you’re helping a child with their taekwondo homework, you praise something they did right, offer a suggestion for improvement, and then praise their technique a second time. Since this is how they’re often taught in class, it makes sense to use the same technique for homework.
Clean Equipment / Nice Equipment: It’s important to wash your child’s taekwondo uniform regularly, of course. In fact, if your child attends taekwondo class frequently, purchasing one or two additional uniforms is probably a good idea. Never wash the belt, of course.
Some parents are less conscientious about washing the sparring gear, but of course that should be kept clean as well. In addition, buying “top of the line” sparring gear can be a nice gift for more enthusiastic taekwondo students. Enthusiastic students also often appreciate getting other taekwondo-wear as special gifts: tee-shirts, sweat-shirts, iPhone cases, key-rings, etc. Tons of these things are available online or at ATA Karate Denver of course.
Movies and Videos: Taekwondo isn’t Karate, but watching the Karate Kid can help motivate your taekwondo student. Kids who are into taekwondo often enjoy watching youth-oriented martial arts movies. Also, watching videos on YouTube can be motivational. Don’t just watch instructional videos (“How to do this form” or “How to do this technique”) — watch fun videos with your student as well. There are tons of YouTube videos that highlight Taekwondo Tricking (such as Ginger Ninja Trickster), world-class taekwondo demo teams (such as the K Tigers), taekwondo-based dance competitions, etc.
Take Videos: Using your smartphone or tablet to shoot video of your child’s taekwondo homework when they’re practicing forms or techniques, then play them back for the child. This accomplishes two things: it helps the child see what they’re getting right and what they’re getting wrong, and also it’s fun for the child to watch so it helps motivate them.
Tournaments: Not all parents choose to take their children to taekwondo tournaments, but it’s worth doing once in a while if the timing and location fit well into your schedule.
There are so many terrific activities to involve children in: sports, music, scouting, etc. The key to making the most out of any of these is parent involvement…and taekwondo is no different. This post provides many of the resources you need to help put more fun into your child’s taekwondo studies, to help them be more successful, and to make it more fun for you to be a taekwondo parent. Remember, at the end of the day, just like any sport of hobby…taekwondo should be fun!
After the Black Belt: Statistics show that the majority of students stop studying taekwondo within the first year of receiving their first Black Belt. If your taekwondo school offers Demo Teams or other special teams, that’s a great way to maintain the child’s interest. Participating in tournaments, of course, is another great way to maintain enthusiasm. Even if your Black Belt child attends taekwondo class only once per week, that’s still enough to “maintain” their basic knowledge of taekwondo. That way, later in their teenage years or later in life, they can re-engage more regularly with taekwondo if their interest increases again.