Innovative Martial Arts
15-1599 Dugald Rd
Winnipeg, MB

5 Reasons You Should Keep Your Child Involved in Structured Activities Over the Summer

Summer holidays are here and sometimes everything seems to go into "lazy mode", but this is not always the best solution and can make back-to-school time that much harder. So here are 5-reasons to keep your child involved with a structured activity over the summer:

1) Routine is important - Adults benefit greatly from routine, and kids much more so. If summer is a time to do whatever, whenever then going back to a routine is that much harder. Retaining some sort of structured activity over the summer months is a great way to keep things in check.


2) Learning shouldn’t take breaks - A very important key to success is to keep learning, all the time. Time off from "required" things allows us to focus on things we have a interest in. If we build the habit early of using down time to pursue other things we are setting kids up for success.

3) Avoiding anxiety about returning - Back-to-school can be a stressful experience, especially when a child has been more isolated to a smaller group of friends and taken a break from "learning". By keeping them involved in structured activities, or even starting a new activity they retain a larger social circle of peers which helps build confidence rather then losing it over the summer.

4) A time to shine in the fall - By maintaining extracurricular involvement over the summer your child will have a opportunity to gain a huge confidence boast in the fall. Fall is when new kids join activities and kids that did take a break return, and generally with some confusion and anxiety about doing so. The kids that where active over the summer have the opportunity to take on leadership and mentoring rules early and gain a boast of confidence from starting the fall off at a higher level then their peers.


5) Sometimes, you just have to do it - This is a lesson that sometimes gets forgotten by kids over the summer. During the rest of the year there are all sorts of things they have to do. No one lets their kids stay home from school because they would rather play video games that day, it’s not a option. But after a summer of not having any activities it can be very hard to rebuild that routine again in the fall. Sometimes as adults we have to make sure that what’s best gets done, not what seems easiest at that moment.

Now kids should definitely get plenty of unstructured free time over the summer. Exploring, being bored and having to figure out what to do about it are essential skills that need to be learnt. Sometimes its even a good idea to take away pieces of the structure to force those skills. For example taking away video games and tv’s will force a child to find other ways to occupy themselves, which can be hard to do as they will often complain about that boredom until they figure out what to do with themselves. During much of the year many children have "too much" structure.

But, during both the summer and the school year it is good to retain a balance of both. There may be times where there is more structure, and times where there is less. But going from extreme to extreme is going to be stressful for the child and the parents.


"I Want to Quit" - 7 Tips To Teach Your Child About Commitment

One of the most frustrating things many parents find is getting their child to stay committed to something. As adults we learnt that commitment is perhaps the most important key to success, and by making it a habit early in life we can set a child on a path that will take them wherever they want to go.

But children tend to not have a long term vision in that regard, they act in the now, and "now" they don’t want to do it anymore, they want to play video games.

The first thing to remember is that this is natural, for kids and adults. Any activity that is challenging will at times leave them wanting to give up.

The second thing is to address the problem before it is a problem. We are often guilty of talking about strong character only when weak character is displayed. We talk about respect when a child is being disrespectful and about fairness when a child isn’t playing fair. The secret is to discuss Character before it is a issue, and to recognize, point out and praise good character traits.

Here are some tips for teaching children to stay committed:

  1. Teach it before it becomes a issue: Respect for commitment and hard work should never be forgotten. Small things like recognizing that it was commitment and hard work that allowed the child to do something they couldn’t do before can go a long way. Teach your child to set goals and to put a plan in action to achieve them.
  2. Reach out for Assistance: Messages become stronger when they are heard from many voices. We are not all experts in everything, and there are experts at building strong character that can be drawn on. Look for a organization that uses a systemized curriculum for teaching character that is in line with your values.
  3. A Goal Should not be the end: In the martial arts we have a built in goal setting system with coloured belts. But a black belt is not the end of the line, it is the front gate to the amusement park, you want to work hard to get there, but you don’t turn around and drive home as soon as you get there.
  4. Don’t over schedule: Children need downtime, just like adults. If they are doing too many things they may end up wanting to do nothing.
  5. Make it visual: Goals that are seen are easier to achieve. When a child sees others riding a bike it will be easier to stay motivated to learn to do so. If you can find a way to keep the goal in front of your child they are more likely to stay motivated.
  6. Find out why: If a child wants to quit find out the reason. It may be something serious, it may be something minor. But if you don’t find out the reason you will never know if it could have been dealt with. Commitments should be kept, and teaching a child to deal with hurdles is far better then teaching a child to quit when obstacles arise.
  7. Look at the real problem: I’ve often heard a story that goes like this: "My child loves the class when he is here, but when its time to leave the house he doesn’t want to go." The question to ask then is what are they doing when it is time to leave? If they are playing video games they are being asked to stop doing something fun in order to drive, which is not fun, before doing something else that is fun. Try getting the child to do something else 15 minutes before it is time to leave. If they are cleaning their room when it is time to leave they will be ready and out the door in no time.

Commitment and quitting are both habits that we develop early in life. A child must learn to follow through when they commit, even when things get hard. As a parent you know this, and your child will look to you for guidance. We must be sure to teach them that hard work and perseverance are necessary to achieve goals and be successful.

Andrew Green is the Owner and Head Instructor at Innovative Martial Arts. He is dedicated to helping children develop strong character through Martial Arts, Fitness and Character Education. He can be reached through or 204-505-2787


Confidence: A Cure for Bullying

Stop Bullying

First published in the Fall / Winter edition of Family-TLC Magazine

Unfortunately back-to-school means back-to-bullying for far more children than any of us like to admit.  Bullying is a very real problem but, fortunately there is a solution.

Bullies target those that are easiest to bully, and the easiest target is the child lacks confidence and is least likely to stand up for themselves.  Unfortunately this is a hard thing to do for most kids, or even adults for that matter.

So the key is confidence; a person that is confident is far less likely to be targeted by a bully.  A child that can verbally, and if necessary, physically stand up for themselves is going to be more trouble for a bully who is looking to boast their own confidence at the expense of others.

So how do you help your child become bully proof?

  1. Praise everything.  Children hear far more negative statements then positive.  "Don’t do this", "Don’t touch that", "keep quiet", etc. The general rule coaches learn is 3 positive statements for every negative one.  This is a good rule to carry out of the gym or off the field as well.  If your child is constantly being told they are good, and doing amazing they will become what they are told and gain the confidence of it.  To strengthen this effect, surround your child with other people and put them in activities where they will hear those same things from other sources.  The more different places they are hearing positive statements the stronger the effect.However the goal is not to simply praise for the sake of praising, it needs to be specific towards what you are trying to encourage.  Praise effort, attentiveness, focus and other traits you want to develop.
  2. Teach them "Verbal Judo".   Must bullying can be stopped through words, saying the right thing at the right time.  Calling the bully on his statements and actions, making them hold responsibility for their actions.  Simply having the confidence to ask the bully to stop, or asking them why they are doing what they are doing.Speaking confidently and saying the right thing can make all the difference, both with bullies and in life.
  3. Teach them to help others.   Little things add up, and realizing that they have the ability to help others is a big part of being a confident person.  Teach them to open doors, help with the yard work, and volunteer in the community with you.  Lead by example and remember to thank them for what they do, even if it is small.Another great way to do this is have them working with younger kids in some regard.  The act of "teaching" others not only improves their knowledge of what they are teaching, but also builds their confidence in themselves.
  4. Give them the physical skills.  With bullies the ultimate threat is being beat up.  Bullies use the threat of violence as a way to keep power over others.  If that threat doesn’t frighten your child because they understand how to defend themselves. If they know, without question, through direct and repeated experience, that they are capable of protecting themselves. That they can control a bigger, stronger and older opponent because they do so every week against bigger, stronger and older (but less experienced) kids in a martial arts class, they will have the confidence in how they respond verbally because that fear won’t be there.

Martial Arts is only part of the answer though.  It can teach them to be physically stronger and confident in their ability to defend themselves.  It can teach them to stand in front of a class and perform.  But the real secret lies in the way the child is taught, not just in a martial arts gym, but everywhere they interact with leaders.

It’s also never too early to start, don’t wait until your child is a victim to teach them how not to be one.  A confident child is not only bully proof, but primed for being unstoppable in whatever they do.

Andrew Green is head coach at Innovative Martial Arts and can be reached at 204-505-2787, or through