IntroThis article describes some ideals every child needs to possess to become a happy, productive adult, and how taekwondo helps parents help their children attain them.
- Physical fitness. Children must be taught that a fit, healthy lifestyle is the accumulation of good habits. Three components make up a healthy lifestyle: exercise, nutrition, and hygiene and grooming. Taekwondo helps parents with the exercise component and may also help with the other two components. Taekwondo instructors tell children how eating healthy will make them better warriors and they require that children have proper hygiene and grooming while in class.
- Self-control. Children must be taught to self-manage their own actions. If parents do not establish boundaries, or if they establish boundaries and are not consistent in enforcing them, they make it difficult for their children to learn self-control. Children then get the idea that boundaries are flexible. Taekwondo has rules of behavior that are strictly enforced. If children want to continue training and competing with their friends, they must learn to control their behavior or pay the consequences.
- Focus. Taekwondo teaches children to pay attention and block out distractions. Pattern practice demands that children block out distractions and concentrate on making perfect motions. Sparring requires a student’s undivided attention always or they lose the match.
- Confidence. Taekwondo helps children become experts at something, which then gives them more self-confidence. Everybody knows that if you are good at something, you become confident in that thing, but that confidence also spills over into other areas of a child's life making them more confident overall.
- Spiritual development. This is a task for parents, not for taekwondo. It is the responsibility of the parents, their extended families, and their religious leaders to help children spiritually. Sometimes taekwondo is taught in a religious institution or within a religious context. Under these circumstances, taekwondo may help with a child's religious development.
- Right and wrong. Today, many believe that absolutes, such as—right and wrong—do not exist. Therefore, their children don’t know the price they must pay when they choose to disobey these absolutes. With no absolutes, we end up teaching our kids about a "gray" area between black and white where people are free to define and choose their own sense of right and wrong. However, children must be taught that their actions have consequences and that they must deal with those consequences. Taekwondo teaches children to take responsibility for their actions, such as when they accidentally hit another student with too much force.
- Honesty. Honesty is more than simply not lying. It includes a belief in, and a pursuit of, the truth. Honesty is a sign of a healthy self-esteem because an honest person takes responsibility for his or her actions. A child who feels good about him or herself has no need to resort to deception. Taekwondo teaches children to be honest, even when it is not easy to do, or is not the popular thing to do.
- Courage. If a child is constantly afraid, he or she feels less and less able to deal with his or her surroundings. Instead of experiencing growth, the child's comfort zone shrinks and he or she withdraws from life. Courage determines how much freedom a child experiences. Fear will hold your child back and prevent him or her from trying new things, pursuing meaningful opportunities, and from living the life he or she was meant to live. Taekwondo helps children face their fears and conquer them. As they gain more courage, they are not afraid to try new things.
- Contribution. Children need to be taught the joy of giving so they will become persons who contribute to society. Life rewards you in direct proportion to your willingness to contribute. Taekwondo students learn to give assistance to new students or those with physical or mental challenges and they learn community service. They learn that helping others makes you feel good about yourself.
- Positive outlook. Children need to look at their lives positively, not negatively. Taekwondo instructors don’t tell students they are doing a technique wrong; they praise them for what they are doing right and then tell them how to improve it. As a result, students have a positive outlook about their futures and feel capable of doing anything.
- Responsibility. Taekwondo teaches children to take responsibility for their own actions, for assigned tasks, for younger children, and for other students of lower rank. As they learn responsibility, they are given more responsibilities.
- Persistence. Sometimes, things in life do not come easily. Some children take longer to earn rank in taekwondo than it does for other children. Taekwondo teaches children not to give up and that they can succeed if they persist in their efforts.