Those of us who have been in the Martial Arts or physical fitness scene for some time have likely encountered the parent who requests that you teach their child about toughness.
While the act of teaching a child or teen what toughness is and why it is fundamentally important is a worthwhile endeavor, it begs the question, “if your child is not learning toughness from you, what makes you think they will learn it from me?”.
What many of these parents who may altruistically wish for their kids to have the capacity to overcome challenges in life fail to recognize, is the fact that children typically imitate the behaviors that surround them. Example: If a parent is clinically overweight (over 35% body fat) and all their friends and relatives are, how would a child know that being overweight is unhealthy?
I’ll give you another example. Some parents request that their child exercise daily, and rightfully so, while failing to demonstrate the same habits. In this scenario can you really expect the kid to believe exercise will benefit them? Contrast this example with the farmer who learns they have to get up early and do chores? Not only do their parents lead by example but they quickly learn the sweat equity that is required to have a chance at surviving on a farm.
I’ll give one more example, since they are really endless. A parent comes in to learn Jiu Jitsu and due to the difficult nature of it physically, emotionally and psychologically, quits. Yet this same person vocalizes frustration when their 4 year old fails to demonstrate “killer instinct” on the mats.
Children often observe much more than they listen and behave in a way that is reflective of the culture that surrounds them. If their environment is fun, they will likely exude happiness. Whereas if their environment is disciplined they will likely act in a more reserved manner. For those who wish that little Jack or Jane becomes tougher, it might not hurt to swallow a pill of your own medicine first.