By Jim Graden
2. Find the things a child does right. Praising more and criticizing less is the way to motivate people, not just children, to give maximum effort. But to do this, you have to have the attitude to look for good first, even if bad stands out more. Praising a child should not be just for the sake of praising. I'm talking about recognizing something that is really worth pointing out. So for example, Instead of just saying "hey great job Jack!" I might say something like "great job Jack, I really liked the power and focus on your side kick!". The more specific you are the more the child knows you are really paying attention to them. What child doesn't want more attention? Children like positive recognition, everyone does. If you are a parent, teacher or coach try to focus far more on the good the child is doing than the bad. You will get far more effort out of them. A good habit to get into if you have children or work with them is the concept of praise, critique, praise. This just means before correcting, praise first and address the issue and then praise again. Example: "good job on mowing the lawn, but you forgot to sweep up and I need you to do that, but everything else looks great! The real benefit of being a positive leader to children is that when you do need to correct skills, attitude or behavior it has a much stronger impact. We all know that kids have the ability to tune us out. Especially If the majority of time your child hears negative things from a teacher, parent or even their martial arts instructor. It will become just sound, like the same old blah, blah, blah, another day of getting yelled at. But if critiques and disciplining behavior is not the norm, then when you do it, it will have a far greater impact on the child. I believe in very clear and structured guidelines when working with children, so they know it, before I do, if they have done something wrong. When I have disciplined my own son or a child in class I make a big deal of it. Not by punishing, but just by making it very clear that particular behavior has to stop, whatever that behavior may be. I don't want the child to stop the behavior out of fear. I want the child to feel like they have disappointed me and have a desire to get back on positive side of Mr. Graden. After teaching for 40 years this is what I have found to be, by far, the most effective way to motivate children. One last point on disciplining a child, neve hold grudges. Every child deserves forgiveness including your child and my students. Realize confidence is the key to developing leadership. If a child knows you believe in them and you reinforce it every day, by finding something right they did, you are on your way to developing a confident leader.
"All Children should have access to leadership training, not just the select few"