We have gotten positive feedback on the mat chats before kids’ classes we have been doing before kids’ classes. One request we have received is to offer follow-up documentation of the chat topics so that parents can reinforce lessons at home. We think that is a great idea and will be posting that information here in the TMAA blog, The Dojang Spirit.
Last week, we discussed honesty. For a deeper dive into this topic, including research and specific tips, check out this article that Sabumnim Espy posted on his parenting blog, The Black Belt Parent.
In our mat chats, we followed a strategy of asking the kids questions about honesty to guide them through some specific concepts. Asking questions engages a child’s mind much more deeply than simple lecturing and, because we work with their answers, they are much more invested in the topic.
First, we came to a common definition of honest as “telling the truth.” It is very important to use this “positive” definition and not the negative definition of “not lying.” There is extensive research that shows that teaching that lying is wrong and about the consequences of lying has little to no impact on a child’s honesty. Only by emphasizing the value of truth-telling can you influence his or her honesty (see Sabumnim’s article mentioned above to learn more about the research).
We then discussed stories the kids had around honesty. This contextualizes the topic, moving children from abstract definitions to what it means in their lives. We then focused these stories towards when it was difficult to be honest.
This is an important part of the mat chat process. Up to this point, we have been establishing the value of honesty, now we are exploring why we fail at it. Most of the feedback we got from kids boiled down to one emotion: fear. Fear of getting in trouble, fear of compromising a relationship, fear of missing out, etc.
So our questions helped kids see that their biggest obstacle to being honest was their fears. With that in mind, we then discussed fear management techniques (breathing, meditation, visualizing positive outcomes, etc.).
So our exploration of honesty followed four progressive steps:
· Definition—Honesty is telling the truth.
· Contextualizing—What are some times you were honest?
· Identifying Cause of Failure—Why is it sometimes hard to tell the truth?
· Problem Solving—If fear can sometimes make telling the truth difficult, what are some healthy ways to deal with fear?
Please feel free to use any or all of these steps with your own child to reinforce the concepts and strategies. Don’t forget to leave us comments on what you think of the mat chats, this topic, or share your experience with working on these lessons at home!