So far on this blog I've mentioned a few times how important it is for instructors to understand the stages of development for younger students.
I've decided to put together a series of posts about each stage of development for children. This is the final post of the series. If you missed the previous posts, check them out here...
How Martial Arts Enhances Your Child's Stage of Development: Part 1
How Martial Arts Enhances Your Child's Stage of Development: Part 2
How Martial Arts Enhances Your Child's Stage of Development: Part 3
How Martial Arts Enhances Your Child's Stage of Development: Part 4
This week, we are focusing on 10-14 year olds!
Ten to fourteen-year olds, for the most part, are the smartest students in the school. Yes, they are smarter than most adults! They are also physically competent and can excel in most physical challenges that are presented to them. The problem we discovered is they are so focused on what is socially acceptable that they have a hard time keeping themselves emotionally driven to the task at hand.
Now, you may remember from my last post that children develop in four distinct categories: Physically, Intellectually, Emotionally, and Socially.
I'm going to break down each category for you. This way, you'll know exactly what to expect from your child and see how martial arts can help foster proper development for your child.
Here we go!
10-14 year olds generally have the physical ability to demonstrate great dexterity in their movements. They begin to develop strength and power by honing in on the finer details of technique.
But, this is also a time of rapid physical growth for children because they are transitioning from their young bodies into their adult bodies. Their physical development is rapidly growing which means their hormones are running wild through their bodies. This can eat up a lot of a child's energy.
Since this age group usually has less energy than younger children, they tend to be a little sloppy when performing simple tasks. Instead, they'll save their energy for something more challenging and interesting to them.
Another interesting thing happens to 10-14 year olds as they experience rapid growth.
While their dexterity improves in movements they've already learned, their ability to learn new physical tasks or techniques becomes more challenging than at slightly younger ages. This is because of the dramatic change their bodies are going through. So, not only do they have to focus on learning a new technique, but they also have to perform that technique in a new body that they aren't used to.
This age group is super smart. These kids understand critical thinking, reasoning and logic. They understand complex ideas and can remember and follow detailed instructions.
However, 10-14 year olds typically don't have great decision making abilities. This is because the prefrontal cortex of their brain hasn't fully developed. So, they are more likely to take risks and struggle with impulse control.
Martial arts is one of the best ways to help your child learn how to control their impulses and improve decision making. One area of our curriculum at TMAC that is especially good at teaching proper decision making is self defense.
Self defense is unique because it helps students translate the skills they learn in class into real world situations. As you might expect, a good martial arts instructor never wants their students to ever have to use the techniques they learn on a bully, kidnapper or other bad guy. So, a lot of time is spent discussing and practicing how to use awareness and mindfulness to asses potentially dangerous situations and make a proper decision on how to handle it.
Emotionally, 10-14 year olds are all over the map. As I mentioned before, their hormones run wild at this age. So, it's normal for them to have intense emotions and moods swings. How this affects learning skills, such as martial arts, is that if a 10-14 year old isn't emotionally invested in learning, then it is almost impossible to get them to learn anything you are trying to teach.
So, the question is, "how to you get a 10-14 year old motivated?"
The best way to help motivate this age group is to let them have a choice. This helps them feel like they are in more control of what they are learning. So, they will be less likely to rebel against or shut out new lessons.
10-14 year olds care more about what their peers think than what adults think. So it's important to work with this age group instead of against them. Because, this is the age group where kids start to push away from their parents or other adult influences.
As an adult, it's important to never patronize or embarrass 10-14 year olds, especially in front of their peers. Instead, foster a feeling of social comfortability to help build confidence, trust and motivation.
It's also common to see kids a this age avoid being the center of attention, especially when asked to do something they aren't confident with performing. So, instead of singling them out it's a good idea to let them work with their peers. Again, creating a comfortable social environment is the key to helping 10 -14 year olds thrive!
There you have it!
Five weeks worth of information on how your child progresses through their stages of development and how martial arts can help!
I know it can sometimes be tough trying to understand how to best help your child. But, if you always try to make sure your expectations parallel their Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Social stage of development, then both you and your child will have a much easier time!
And of course, if you need extra help you can always ask your TMAC instructors!
See you next time,
Traditional Martial Arts Center