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By Sam Larioza of Ohana Karate

How can you develop high achieving, successful children? 

In my discussions with teachers and school administrators I often ask:  What is the most important issue you face with your students?  Particularly at the junior high and high school level they say it is the “Lack of Motivation” in many of their children.  Can you change your child’s level of motivation and thus their level of success?

The Spiral of Success (or Failure):  Draw a triangle on a piece of paper.  At one point write the word “motivation”, on the others write “effort” and “results”.  This triangle is the “Spiral of Success”.  As one gets motivated they put in more effort, then get good results.  Positive results in turn produce more motivation and thus more effort leading to better results.  I think that you get the idea.  In the same way a child can get into a “spiral of failure”.  A lack of motivation, leads to less effort, getting bad results, then even less motivation.  Eventually a child stops trying (A way to avoid failure is to stop trying).

Question:  How do you get a child on this “Spiral of Success”?  Where do you start?  You could start with motivation, pumping the child up with positive words and praise.  But if they do not get positive results they quickly lose motivation.  You could encourage a child’s effort to “try harder” and to “never give up”, but again if they do not get rewarding results they quickly stop trying.  The key to starting a child on the path of success is to start with RESULTS!  Even small positive results produce high levels of motivation.  Each positive result drives even higher levels of effort that produce bigger and more rewarding results.  The spiral feeds itself.

In activities like karate we have the unique ability to “start” with results.  Even if a child performs a “less than perfect” technique, if it is better than she did yesterday we say “Nice Punch Kaitlyn!  Now try turning your fist a little more.  That’s it!  You are awesome.  Give me a High Five!”  Students get plenty of successes.  Failure is virtually nonexistent in a Karate Dojo.  It may appear to the observer that we are “lax” or “too easy” with our standards at times.  This is intentional.  In the beginner stages our top priority is to start each student on this “Spiral of Success”.  Once they are on the path, developing great karate students and great kids is easy.

Do our children see enough success at home, at school or on the sports fields?  It probably gets worse as they get older.  How often does your child get positive results and feedback at school?  Are they “A” students?  Did you notice that the same kids make the Honor Roll semester after semester?  Are we too quick to “label” kids?  In sports (because of “competition”) some kids have to sit on the bench or not play the glamour positions.  Some environments are more “failure prone” than others.  How many times does a child miss hitting the baseball or fail to get on base?  For every winner there is a loser.  In some competitive sports there are dozens of losers for every winner.  Remember the joke: What is second place?  First Loser!  How many times a day does your child experience “failure”?  The tough thing is that you may succeed 9 out of 10 times but you only remember the one failure.

Which way is your child headed?  Are they accelerating up the Spiral of Success …… or tumbling down the Spiral of Failure?  Have they stopped trying?  Are they afraid to try?  Do they feel undeserving of success?

You can choose your child’s activities.  If your child is not already on the “Spiral of Success” you can help them by placing them in “Success Rich” environments.