Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sparring as Discipline Tool

After a week of trying to get the boy to be good at school, he finally built up enough days of not getting into trouble (or just getting into a small bit of trouble at the very end of the day) that he got to go to an extra night of karate for sparring tonight.

You talk about a happy kid.

Our class meets five nights a week at five different venues. Most parents go to one venue once a week, but the instructor said that once they started sparring that the kids usually wanted to go more. Harrison started sparring last week and really seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I’d try using that as a bargaining chip.

We’ve been having a lot of trouble getting him to behave in class lately. He’s not been doing really bad things, but just bad enough to get his name moved from green to yellow most of the time. (You folks who have kids in elementary school know what I’m talking about…) Occasionally, he gets way out of line and gets moved to red and gets a more stern note sent home.

We’ve tried everything we could think of to help him remember to behave. We’ve had many discussions about what is and is not proper behavior. We’ve tried spanking, with some small degree of success but nothing really lasting. We’ve tried taking away all of his toys and making him stay in his room with nothing to do. We’ve tried having him write sentences. He really hates that, so it’s seemed pretty effective, but it’s not curtailed the misbehavior completely. We have even tried bribing him into good behavior with fun activities. We promised him last week that if he behaved, we’d take him to see the monster trucks that were coming to town. I think it goes without saying that he didn’t get to see the trucks. Oh, the tears cried over that one!

But the sparring is something that he definitely wants to do. So this week, he got moved to yellow a few times but overall his behavior hasn’t been terrible. On top of that, I am trying to remember that he’s a five year old boy. They’re pretty much made out of pure energy.

So I took him to extra sparring tonight. And he loved it. He ended up going through three different bouts. He got beat on his first and second matchups, but he triumphed on the third one. More important than him winning (which I was very glad he won at least one match—I didn’t want to spend the rest of the evening with a mopey kid who got beat all the time!) was that he kept his cool about the first two matches. I know he wasn’t happy about losing, but he at least didn’t throw a crying hissy fit like the kid he beat in the third round did at the end of practice.

So I hope that this turns out to be something that will compel him to behave. The teacher has already said that if he doesn’t behave (and this applies to the whole class—she’s not just singling out my brat kid!), then he wouldn’t get to spar at all—he’d just have to sit on the sidelines and watch. I’m totally for that if push comes to shove.

We shall see.

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