Your child wants to take a break from training? Awesome! Now you get to check that box ✅ on the list of "Things to Expect Whilst Trying to Accomplish Something Awesome". Lol.
We all know that this test is a totally expected obstacle when committing to anything. And now - if we so choose - we have an opportunity to teach our kids about what commitment is all about.
I find that it's helpful to go over a few things that most students and parents don't think about when the thought of taking a break comes up, so I've put this little list together and I hope it helps....
5 Things Kids Don't Understand about "Taking a Break"
1) Returning later means quitting something else later
A break from Martial Arts classes realistically creates a 1 hour window a few times per week that is ultimately filled with another activity. What that means is that when a student promises to "Come back later", they are also promising to quit their new activity later.
Because of this, I always encourage my students to avoid taking a break unless there is a specific activity during that time slot that they are prepared to quit once it's time to come back. I then ask for an exact date that they will return so that I can help keep them accountable and practice keeping an agreement. Students who do not set up a "comeback date" do not come back.
2) There's no break from learning or being active
A lot of kids think that if they take a break from Martial Arts that they'll be sitting at home watching more tv or playing on their iPad. However, we all know that parents are not going to let this fly. I've heard parents explain this to their child and it changes their mind instantly. Mmm, let's see - soccer practice for 4 hours each day, plus games on the weekends? Or a few 45 minute lessons per week... which one sounds better? Martial Arts is one of the most dynamic and efficient ways of staying active.
3) Friends keep on promoting
Nobody is incentivized to return after a break once they've realized that all their friends are a rank or two higher. Of course we don't want our kids comparing themselves to others, but trust me - that lesson is a lot easier to learn when you're not behind everyone else in the class.
4) Taking a break does not give Mom and Dad a break
Students may think that if they take a break, Mom and Dad won't have to worry about driving them to class or paying for lessons anymore. They might think that they'll actually be relieving their parents in some way.
They don't consider the fact that their parents have invested time and money and have even signed membership agreements on their behalf. They don't realize that their parents are as committed or even more committed to their child's success in the program than the kids are.
If we're not taking them to Martial Arts class, we'll be taking them somewhere else. If we're not paying for Martial Arts, we're paying for something else. We love our kids are we want what is best for them! They have to know that.
5) "Taking a break" is code for "I want to quit"
Some students don't know how to say that they want to quit. Perhaps they are close to their goal and they are wrestling with self doubt or fear.... all of a sudden they have a great idea... They want to take a break.
Well, around here, everyone knows that taking a break is a euphemism for "I'm going to quit", which is why it warrants a huge discussion with parents and instructors. Even for the most well-intentioned student who's desire for a break involves a genuine plan of returning, I can tell you from experience - 9 out of 10 of those students rack up more excuses as time passes until finally they quit.
As a parent and an instructor, I would much rather have the deeper conversation by asking the question behind the question. What is the resistance to accomplishing your goal? How might this apply to decisions or commitments you make in the future?