I have had the privilege of teaching martial arts for nearly twenty years. In those two decades, many of the children I have taught and continue to teach have special needs. Some of my students are blind, deaf, missing arms or legs. I have taught children with cerebral palsy, autism, and down’s syndrome. Martial arts teaches students to overcome obstacles, which make special needs students some of the best students to work with!
My special needs students are among the most rewarding students I have had the honor to teach. The parents however, are another story. Many times, parents sabotage their child’s success. It’s so painful for them to watch their child struggle with simple everyday tasks, that they prevent them from even attempting bigger challenges. Fearing their child won’t be able to handle the struggles and challenges necessary to succeed, they limit their child’s true potential.
Quit focusing on their “special need” and focus on what makes them special!
The biggest mistake these parents make is comparing their child to other children. In doing so they lower their expectations. Instead of looking at their child’s strengths and unique gifts, they focus on their weaknesses. The child’s “disability “ becomes an excuse for not pushing them to achieve. Standards are set too low.
My advice to all parents, not just those with special needs, is it to let your child struggle. Let them make mistakes. Quit focusing on their “special need” and focus on what makes them special! We are all capable of being more than we are. Don’t let your limitations become their limitations. Growth lies outside of our comfort zone. You will be surprised by what your child can accomplish, if you just get out of their way.
See you on the mat,