At Traditional Martial Arts Academy, kids earn life skills stripes at every belt level. These stripes are for effort applied at home, school and towards community service. During our mat chats this month, we will be discussing one of these stripes each week. Last week, we discussed the Home Stripe. Kids earn a yellow stripe for their belts for effort they apply at home (you can watch a video about life skills stripes in general here.)
As stated above, the Home Stripe is earned for effort applied at home. The focus of your child’s effort is something that you and s/he decide together. If your child is having difficulty coming up with an area of focus, it can be helpful to come up with 2 or 3 ideas and allow your child to pick what s/he wants to work on. It is important to remember that you are looking to create momentum towards better habits, so you are looking for effort that will helped them improve. You are not necessarily looking for perfect execution.
For example, a common project for this stripe is having kids put their stuff away when they get home, rather than just dumping it on the floor or on living room furniture. When they are working on this stripe, they may have an off day (e.g., when unusually busy or tired) or might occasionally put most of their things away but forget something. You may still consider this successful effort because they are clearly moving in the right direction.
Also keep in mind that whatever your child is working on should be measurable and objective, as well as simple (but not easy). For example, if you are looking for an end goal of instilling more respect, the home stripe objective should NOT be “Joey is working on being more respectful to his parents,” as this is too broad and makes it too difficult to define success. Instead, perhaps the objective could be “Joey is working on stopping what he is doing and looking me in the eye when I speak to him” or “Joey is working on answering questions with ‘Yes, ma’am,’ ‘No, ma’am,’ ‘Yes, sir,’ or ‘No, sir.'”
In the end, even though an instructor places it on their belt, you are the one awarding your child’s stripe. You make the final decision of whether or not they have demonstrated the effort to earn their stripe.
Here are some examples of Home Stripe projects that families have done in the past:
· Using more courteous language in the home (sir/ma’am, please, thank you, etc.)
· Counting to 10 or using Three-Hearts Meditation when feeling upset with a sibling
· Keeping their room clean
· Helping with dishes
· Making their own lunch
· Bathroom skills (bathing, toilet habits, etc)
· Dressing themselves
· Tying their shoes
All life skills stripes must be earned before your child takes their next belt test. If you have any questions, or need help with ideas for a Home Stripe, please chat with your instructor or Mrs. Espy.
A final note: Stripes that are earned can also be lost. If your child backslides after earning their Home Stripe, you can let their instructor know and the stripe will be removed until they re-earn it.