As martial arts teachers and parents we always do our best to encourage our students when they face challenges. We want to set up a safe environment where students can learn indomitable spirit. Whether it is in a Taekwondo class or learning something at home, we want to give students the space to fail.

When students fail, and they will, they will know they failed. They do not need to be reminded, rather, as teachers we want to make sure that they view their failures through an appropriate lens. We want to make sure that the student does not internalize a ‘I can’t do this’ attitude. When a student takes that type of attitude, they start to believe that they are incapable and will never succeed. This type of internal dialogue will negatively affect their efforts going forward.

We want them to view their failures as a lack of success in the current moment. As a competitive athlete myself, I know that when I do not win a match it does not make me a ‘bad person’ or bad Taekwondo athlete. Did I succeed, no and do I need to keep working, yes, but a failure does not negatively affect the way I view myself. As teachers or parents, we help children frame their failures this way when we help them focus on the steps they need to succeed.

We want them to learn to view the challenges in front of them knowing they can conquer those challenges. As teachers and parents, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and want the child to succeed, getting disappointed when they do not. As the mature adult, we need to be able to take an emotional step back and help the student. When a student loses a competition, my first goal to remind the student of what they did well. Whether that is a specific moment in the match or just the fact they were willing to compete. Then we can focus on what they need to work on going forward, but at no time do I want the student to feel like they are a failure.

This type of encouragement helps students stay engaged with what they are learning. It motives students to keep trying and grow. As teachers and parents, that is our goal with all our kids.