Want your child to grow up and accomplish any goal they set the mind on? Teach them like a karate instructor.
DAGPAW© is the acronym I use to describe the six essential skills necessary to succeed in life. It stands for Discipline, A’s & B’s, Goal setting, Perseverance, Attitude, and Work Ethic. I came to this conclusion after reflecting on what it took for me to free myself from a possible life of destruction and become world champion.
DAGPAW © is the standard by which all WCRB Karate classes are taught. Although martial arts instructor may articulate it differently, it is also the basis for how professional martial artists teach.
Discipline: The D in DAGPAW ©
Discipline is the king of success skills, because without it four of the other success skills (goal setting and acquisition, perseverance, getting A’s & B’s, work ethic) cannot be done.
Kids and Discipline: A Strange Relationship
Have you ever been in a marching band? I have. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Showing up at practice and having the head instructor bark out commands: stand up straight, shoulders back, left turn right turn etc.
It was exhilarating! And once again, the stricter the discipline, the more important the task becomes. Insistence on discipline while doing a task gives the job more value and importance. When completed, you earn the satisfactory feeling of a job well done. Who doesn’t want that!
Most kids resist and complain, but instinctively gravitate towards highly disciplined environments.
The reason is because the structure of a disciplined environment makes kids feel safe. No one, especially a child, will do well in a helter skelter, chaotic environment. Those types of environments create fear and uncertainty. Structure creates certainty and safety.
Discipline Made Easy
How does one instill discipline, unless you are in the military? Force is not the answer.
For purposes of this discussion, there are three types of discipline: Mind control, time control, and body control.
Mind control discipline is remembering to say things: “Yes sir/Ma’am
Time control discipline is having to do something at a certain time: 7am time to get up, 12 noon time to eat, 9pm time to go to bed, etc.
Body control discipline is making your body do something it doesn’t want to do; the key is to do it immediately when asked: sit up, stand still etc.
Of the three, “time control” discipline is the easiest because you can be assisted by a clock, friend, relative (mommy, daddy) etc.
Because of its ease, “time control discipline” should be use to introduce young children (3-5) and sensitive kids to discipline.
While an argument can be made that all discipline is mental we must remain aware that what we are trying to do is find a way to teach discipline to young children who in many cases have not yet acquired awareness.
The easiest way to do this is to break the teaching into three specific components: Time can be used to trigger the mental to control the physical.
Once an individual reaches a certain age of awareness the mental can be used to trigger the time and the physical.
Example: You wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “ I have to remember to do this or that at twelve today”.
Earlier I stated that “Discipline is making your body do something it doesn’t want to do at that time”. If you agree with that statement, then developing an ACTION PLAN to instill discipline into your child is easier than you might think. All you have to do is place a time frame on things that need to get done anyway.
For example, instead of letting your child do their homework scattershot, any time they want to, develop a specific time designated especially for homework.
If your child is old enough to do chores, assign a specific time to do them. The list of things that can be specifically timed is endless i.e. brush their teeth, take out trash, do homework, walk the dog, do the laundry, wash dishes, etc. By helping your child understand that all members of the family must do their part to make each other’s life easier they will readily volunteer to be given the responsibility of a task that must be done in a timely manner.
Bonus (But not for everyone!)
Ever notice that karate instructors have their students call them “Sir or Ma’am”? Here’s why.
The importance of “Sir and Ma’am”
No other tool teaches self-discipline faster than the insistence of ‘Sir or Ma’am” placed before or after a word. A simple “Yes, Sir” or “Yes, Ma’am” changes the dynamics of a conversation. The person speaking the words instinctively understands that they are they subordinate in the discussion and that the person they are addressing is deserving of respect, and most importantly, leadership trust (a willingness to go along with what they are saying). This is not something to be taken lightly when you are trying to infuse3 success skills into someone’s life, especially if they are not related to you (as in the army, military school, karate class etc,).
After 40 years of working with children, it is my belief that, in order to instill leadership skills in your child, you must be the captain of your ship, and steer a course to success with a clear I’m in charge doctrine. “Sir and Ma’am” will help do that for you. Getting your child to say “sir or Ma’am” to you at home is not as difficult as it may seem. We get our three year olds and up “Jamboree” class to say “Sir or Ma’am” to their parents by giving them classroom credit for courtesy at home.
A word of warning: Do not start this part of the program until you are totally committed to its consistency. Starting and stopping the use of “Sir or Ma’am” will confuse the child and make it seem like a punishment than a developmental aid.
I’d like to conclude by saying, between the age of three and five is where you should start imparting success skills into your child. Up to year five children learn by being allowed to explore and experiment. They need to be allowed to roam freely, touch, feel, and manipulate the world around them. They are not ready for a heavy load of discipline and structure. In fact, introducing toddlers to rigid discipline concepts too early can have a completely opposite effect on what you are trying to do; instead, what you would have a toddler do should more appropriately be called “disciplay!”
Disciplay is learning discipline concepts while playing. (I know it sounds oxymoronic, but it can be done with a little effort.)
Additional Discipline concepts can be found in Master Batiste’s new book: DAGPAW Means Success: A Parent’s Guide To Instilling Martial Arts Success Skills Into Their Child at Home, now on sale on “Amazon.com”