Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gracie Bullyproof

Having so thoroughly enjoyed this friend's recent post and the fascinating comments thread about mistaken goals, I was primed to contemplate the teaching claims of our home based Jiu Jitsu curriculum.

New Video: How to Teach Your Child to be Bullyproof

 Hmmm, I love this method for making a physical skill fun and desirable for a kid.  I wonder how far it generalizes though.  I also wonder about the age.  I think this is a completely reasonable way to correct a toddler, but I think a teenager would see this as dishonest.  It also makes me wonder about making a kid praise focused.  These guys are so winning and the kids have so much fun and they make Jiu Jitsu a completely positive experience.  They claim this form of silent correction with verbal praise made them into teenagers who were positively bonded to their parents and did not rebel destructively.  I need to think more about their methods outside of Jiu Jitsu.  I don't understand how they would respond to a kid swearing at them or trying out stealing in a purely positive manner?  My impression so far is that they've found a highly effective way of teaching a physical skill and encouraging positive bonding time between parent and child.  However, I don't think their methods generalize well beyond that point.


  1. My thoughts on this total praise, no pressure method? They are addressing a real problem, but they get the answer wrong.

    The problem is parents who are too invested in what their children do. Whether or not a child is excelling at Jiu Jitsu should not be a serious concern for a parent. It's the child's value and should be his concern. The parent might be curious; he might want his child to enjoy himself and feel successful; and he might see lots of uses for the skill. But ultimately, whether he fails or succeeds, how rapidly he progresses, and what that means in terms of his future should be the concern of the child.

    To many parents, and I know this from experience teaching gymnastics, are critical and unkind to their children about their athletic progress. The are WAY too critical and make the sport unpleasant and fraught with negative feelings.

    But the answer is not to praise and never criticize. The answer is to butt out. When the child asks for feedback or guidance, the parent should give it, of course, positive or negative because that's honest. It's dishonest to give only praise when a child asks for real feedback, if the child could improve in some areas. I think parents should be gentle and kind in their criticism, but still be honest.

    I also think it's okay to ask a child if she wants some feedback. As long as the child has learned that no is an okay answer, she'll let the parent know if she wants help.

    Also, parental guidance and gentle criticism do not make kids feel like a disappointment, as the Gracies seem to say. Parents who show that mistakes and difficulties are unacceptable make kids feel like disappointments. It's possible to be a parent who gives negative feedback with a "Yippee Mistakes" attitude, teaching kids that we all screw up and that we can fix things and grow and still feel good about ourselves.

  2. Kelly: I think you nailed my misgivings. It's just dishonest to say something is "perfect" when it isn't. When I'm doing Jiu Jistsu with my son, I'm smiling and laughing, but I also tell him when I note he's missing part of the move. It's not like he's upset, he's eager to do the best job of tackling me possible :)

    I do see the point of focussing on the positive because this is an optional value and it doesn't make sense to make it into some kind of strict, perfectionist activity. Having watched hours of these guys in the videos, I find their friendly, happy teaching delightful. I can see why the kids have so much fun there. I can also see how their method works for them, especially with younger kids. But, I see even they use verbal correction with the older kids and I think everyone is still haven't a blast.

    Thanks for helping me clarify!