How Can I Get My Teenager To Resume Soo Bahk Do Training?

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How Can I Get My Teenager To Resume Soo Bahk Do Training?Q: My teenager (daughter) is a Dan (black belt), but has lost interest in training. How can I convince her to resume training in Soo Bahk Do®?

A:  The decision to train needs to be hers and parental pressure can be less effective with teenagers than it may be with very young children, so you may need to employ a creative parental strategy to discover what dampened her desire to train and/how you might inspire or support her to resume training.

The answer may be as simple as the teen years exposing your teenage daughter to other influences and interests that has pulled her attention elsewhere; however, you might consider having a non-pressuring conversation with your teenager  in order to determine if anything unpleasant happened in her training that might have caused her desire or interest to wane.

For example, did her desire to train fade just before an upcoming rank test, or just after she failed a rank test? Or did she begin avoiding going to class following an event that happened during sparring with another student? Or did she get bored with the class content or was she no longer challenged by the class content because the instructor teaching "down" and slower for younger kids in class rather than teaching "up"  and faster for the older students in class? Or perhaps as a teenage female she now feels Soo Bahk Do training is not "feminine" enough, did her peers at school make fun of her for training, or perhaps something occurred that embarrassed her, etc.?

Or you might encourage your teenager to meet with their instructor and let the instructor know face-to-face why they are taking a break from training. This might also provide their instructor with an opportunity to discover what has dampened your child's enthusiasm for training.

The point is that there are many factors than can result in a student's decision to cease training and occasionally some students find difficult circumstances easier to cope with by avoiding them (quitting training) rather than addressing the core issue and seeking a solution.

If it is really important to you that your teenager resume training, then you might also consider offering to start training with her if she returns to class.

This strategy sometimes has an interesting psychological effect on children of all ages when the parent has not trained before and then begins training after the child has achieved rank. In this scenario where the parent begins training after the child, then during class time the child gains a superior role to the parent that they have never experienced before due to the child being senior in rank to the parent. Under these circumstances the child knows more abut what they are doing than the parent knows and as a result the parent becomes subservient to the child during class in terms of rank protocols present during class.

Occasionally, this scenario can be appealing to a child and may serve to create renewed interest in the child as they may be curious to experience a new kind of relationship with their parent and to explore  how it feels for them "to be in charge" so to speak for the time that they are training in class with their parent.  Resuming training may become an appealing option for them since they can never acceptably experience that kind of relationship with their parent except in the martial art training environment because outside the classroom the parent is always "in charge."

Just a thought.

Bottom line is that Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan training is a personal experience and the desire and motivation to participate are most powerful when they originate from within the student rather than from external forces.  "I want too!" is always a more powerful attitude than "I have too."

You best chance to influence your teen's decisions about training may be for you to inspire, educate and motivate them and hope that your teen's desires and goals encompass your own; however, if they do not then you may just need to support their decision as a teen who is naturally searching for the path to adulthood and independence by making their own choices.

Phil Duncan

Phil Duncan serves as the Executive Administrator of the U.S. Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation® providing and coordinating support services for the U.S. Federation Board, the Kwan Jang Nim, the U.S. Technical Advisory Committee, U.S. Regional Officials, U.S. Members, the Board Directors of the charitable non-profit U.S. Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan FOUNDATION and the World Moo Duk Kwan. He can be contacted at National Member Headquarters or philduncan@soobahkdo.com or (888) SOO-BAHK

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."
Albert Pike

Soo Bahk Do Institute