Every so often parents tell me that their child is starting to not enjoy their Jiu Jitsu because they are not being challenged.
I often wonder when a child plays ball sports, how they are challenged.
I guess when they play sports like AFL, netball and football the opportunity to compete against other teams is the challenge. Whereas in BJJ if the athlete lives in a regional town or city, they have to travel. This becomes the deterrent because at least one parent of the family unit has to travel and it can be an expensive venture.
So how does the child remain challenged in the sport of Jiu Jitsu?
White belts learn four fundamental positions; back control, guard, side control and mount. Within these four positions they learn about attacks, defences, escapes and must apply these skills when wrestling.
Advanced belts learn more complex positional plays.
I like to think of the four fundamental positions as seeds. When you plant a seed and it's given the right conditions, it can grow into a beautiful plant.
As the plant grows, it has a trunk, limbs, branches, stalks, twigs, leaves and flowers. So how does a seed come into Jiu Jitsu?
Lets look at the seed called guard.
When first learning about guard, you learn about passing, sweeping and the submissions, these could be the roots of the plant.
As the athlete becomes competent with the position, they may become quite skilful in a specific submission or easily trick their opponent into a sweep. They start to see how they can better use their limbs and may start to play with an 'open' guard.
Now the trunk of the plant has been established, the athlete is shown a new aspect of the guard and this can formulate a new branch.
Should the athlete like the new technique they've been shown, they may become competent with the skill set and learn how to react to their teammates movement and therefor start to upskill in that guard. They'll learn how to manipulate balance, trap limbs, sweep and submit in various ways.
Over time some training partners will start to understand how the athlete is playing the position and learn to defend it.
The athlete that had been working so hard at that open guard play is now being challenged and has to upskill to best their teammates, and the cycle continues.
When athletes tell me that they’re not being challenged, I ask them when they last used the technique they have been concentrating on in a wrestle. More often than not I get a blank expression and they tell me that they tried but it didn't work.
Now it’s not about a technique not working, it’s about the athlete not allowing themselves to be beaten so they can understand and develop a new game.
Depending on the athlete’s persistence, some positional plays take months if not years to master. Only when you come up against someone you’ve never played against before who has been training for a similar timeframe, and you can execute your chosen technique and win, can you say you are not being challenged.
So the next time your child athlete tells you they are starting to get bored at training, ask them what they’ve been learning for the last few months. When they tell you, ask them when they executed that technique last or how frequently they are able to best their teammates with it.
If they tell you they don’t or can’t, they are not challenging themselves.
By the way, this happens with adults too!
Hey team, have you ever hesitated to put down a medical condition on a form when participating in an activity?
This would have to be one of the most overlooked questions on any form whether it's for sport or other activity, and it makes the work for the people running the activity really hard if they have to find out this information themselves.
Medical conditions can range from diabetes, pregnancy, mental health challenges such as anxiety or ASD.
What we'll do in this article is look specifically at our kids and how important it is to share information with the coaching staff, specifically with those that are on the 'spectrum'.
So many parents tell us that their pediatrician had recommended BJJ to them as a sport to help their child that may have sensory challenges, are ASD or have a neurological challenges.
This is great, however so few parents actually indicate these challenges that their child has and it can impact negatively on coaching children collectively.
Whilst it's great to get our kids out into society to learn different skills, meet new people and get some life experience, it is very important to inform the administration or coaching staff of the challenges that your child may have.
The most common medical condition that doesn't get identified on sporting forms is ASD. This maybe out of embarrassment or denial, but it's super important that this is noted.
Autism affects approximately 1 in 160 people, and is more common in males than females. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder which usually appears very early, before the age of 3 years.
Symptoms of autism include problems in social communication, both verbal and non-verbal, difficulties understanding of what other people are feeling or thinking, and having restricted ranges of interest or difficulty tolerating change. Some level of intellectual disability frequently accompanies autism.
Many individuals with autism also have problems with being either more or less sensitive to sensory stimuli such as sounds, light, and textures; difficulties with sleep; and high levels of anxiety or difficulty concentrating.
It gets super frustrating when this isn't identified on any form or discussed with the parents. It can become a guessing game and when I've approached parents about their child being on the spectrum, some of them are shocked.
From experience and over time though, I have developed a confidence where I am able to notice even the smallest ‘difference’ and tailor my delivery to these awesome children.
The reason why coaching staff need to know these things is so that they can better understand the athlete and how to best manage them in training as there is a big difference between a child diagnosed ASD and an unruly child that is looking for negative attention.
Coaching athletes on the spectrum is very rewarding. Their attention to detail and understanding intricacies of technique is phenomenal. Children with ASD stick to a sport such as BJJ more than other 'normal' sports because they are able to work at their own pace. The expectation to keep up with other children is not there and they don't get overlooked by their coaches.
I often use the analogy of children being pop corn; they all get the same amount of heat and oil, they just pop at different times. Any child that steps on the mat gets their opportunity to shine. They don't have to win a wrestle to be noticed and more often than not it's the little things they do that the coaching staff notice the most.
When I first started coaching, my coach said to me once that irrespective of who that athlete is they could be the next world champion and should be treated as such. It's stuck with me ever since and as such I give everyone the opportunity they deserve at training. Many of the world champions in the sport of BJJ are on the spectrum. Just take a look at Mikey Musumeci or Keenan Cornelius!
What are the signs of overprotective parents?
Overprotective parents fall into a fairly broad category of parenting; some may be driven by fear of injury while others may worry their kids won’t be successful without their constant attention.
Despite the varying circumstances, there are a few signs of overprotective parenting.
If you’re perpetually making big and small decisions for your child without allowing them to think through the options themselves, you may be an overprotective parent.
If your child wants to try something new (like a sport or hobby), but you insist they stick with what they know or what you want, you’re suppressing their drive, showing distrust, and assuming you know better.
It’s important to give children space to consider options on their own. Of course, we can advise them, but ultimately, we want to encourage our children to be independent thinkers with their own confident opinions.
Sheltering from failure
It can be tempting to step in and “rescue” your kid from a bad grade or injured ego. That said, having your child’s teacher on speed dial may be indicative of a bigger parenting problem.
Kids are resilient, but only if we give them the opportunity to rebound. Success is great, but kids won’t truly thrive until they learn to overcome day-to-day failures.
Overreacting to failures
If you’re enraged over the sporadic bad grade or dismayed when your child gets rejected from an opportunity, you need to take a deep breath and be like Elsa — let it go. Overreacting to occasional failures is not helping you or your child adapt and grow.
Fear of injury
If you warn your child to watch their fingers every time they shut a cabinet door or gasp when they occasionally trip over their own two feet, you’re (understandably) worried about their safety.
Certainly, nobody wants a game of tag to end in tears, but trips, spills, and scrapes are a part of childhood. As long as a child isn’t in imminent danger, you should try to bite your tongue from time to time — or the veritable training wheels may never come off.
Intense focus on achievement
If you’re so focused on your child’s accomplishments that you don’t take the time to celebrate them and enjoy the simpler moments, you (and potentially your child) are missing out.
You can schedule tutors and sign your kid up for all of the enrichment activities, but focusing exclusively on academics and measurable achievements could be detrimental to your child’s mental and emotional well-being. We need to let our kids be kids.
Extreme rewards and strict rules
Resorting to outlandish rewards to motivate children and harsh punishments to deter them is another common sign of overprotective parenting.
You want your child to be motivated by their own internal drive and excited by new experiences — not dependent on bribes and fearful of threats.
What are the effects of overprotective parents?
All parents make mistakes, and it’s standard practice to worry about the potential long-term effects of your decision making. But it needs to be said that there’s no one right way to parent. You have to show yourself grace and kindness in this journey and know that you’re not going to always have the right answers.
Nevertheless, identifying any overprotective tendencies now can help adjust the outcome for you and your kids, as this parenting style can have lasting negative consequences.
Unprepared childrenPerhaps most significantly, an overprotective parent can create a child who’s unprepared to deal with what life may throw their way. They’re so accustomed to having a parent make their plans and clean up their messes that they may be helpless in the face of minor challenges and major obstacles alike.
Deceptive childrenIf your child feels suffocated by your very hands-on approach to parenting, they might start to lie. If they feel unable to face the pressure of unrealistic expectations or strict rules, they might twist the truth to manipulate the outcome and change your anticipated response.
Dependent, unconfident childrenIf your child always expects you to swoop in, they may not develop the self-esteem needed to become their own advocate.
If you do everything for them (from basic chores to finishing school projects), they may start expecting you to do other simple things that they can and should do themselves. Instead of taking on new challenges, they’re content to wait for others to handle issues.
Furthermore, a 2013 study out of the University of Mary Washington in Virginia found that children of helicopter parents were more prone to anxiety and depression in their late teens and college years.
If you stop a young child from doing things that may have negative but relatively harmless outcomes, they may become overly scared of trying new things. They may worry they’re going to get hurt or rejected and eventually shy away from experiences.
Kids who are used to having things go their way by design of their parents may have a harder time in the future when they realize that life doesn’t always work that way. They may even feel like they deserve things they haven’t earned.
Moreover, this issue is confounded if they’ve been perpetually motivated by rewards rather than self-satisfaction.
Tips for overprotective parents, as well as those on the receiving end
If you’re shaking your head in shame, rest assured that you’re not alone. There are loads of overprotective parents, who just like you, simply want their babies to be happy high achievers.
Identifying the problem with overprotectiveness is half the battle. You can learn from past mistakes, adjust your parenting style — while still showing ample love and support, and develop a healthier relationship with your children.
Steps you can take as an overprotective parent
On the receiving end of overprotective parenting?
If you’re dealing with your own overprotective parents — whether you’re a child, teen, or adult — you, too, have some work ahead.
The first step to addressing the issue: Start a friendly conversation with your parents and express your feelings. Let them know you want to break this cycle of behavior.
You may think that your parents are controlling your choices, and you may be lashing out as a result. Positive change won’t happen until you take responsibility for your own responses, open up about your feelings, and establish some boundaries.
Outside counseling can also be immensely useful in helping you and your parents strike balance.
Finding a fitting approach to child-rearing may be a fluid process full of trial, error, and compromise.
If you identify as an overprotective parent, you may want to work on some problematic tendencies and try some new strategies — and that’s OK. Parenting is a journey, and you and your kids can and will evolve. Have faith in yourself and your children — you can do this together.
Last medically reviewed on August 25, 2020
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