August 2008

The Importance of Positive Reinforcement.

With the new term of children’s classes starting at the academy I am once again reminded of my responsibilities as a teacher and the effect that I may have on my young protégés.
Martial arts training is a fantastic vehicle for giving all of us a set of values that will help us in many areas of our lives and even more so in our young people. The self discipline and respect for themselves and others gives them a great advantage as they develop. This together with the confidence that they gain through martial arts training develops a mind-set of being able to achieve anything they set their minds to.
It is with this in mind that we must, as teachers, ensure that we continually provide positive reinforcement during our training periods. Encouragement should be given to those that struggle, identify something that they are doing well and praise them for it. This puts the student, young or old in a receptive more motivated frame of mind that will facilitate better learning.
When making corrections avoid negativity. I like to think of the inability to do something properly or failure to do it correctly as having just found another way that doesn’t work. There is no such thing as failure just feedback is a favorite Neurosemantics presupposition.
The “positive sandwich” is a great method of making corrections when assisting students with a technique. Identify something, or a part of their technique, that the student is doing well a praise them for it, then suggest trying to do the part of the technique that they are doing wrong in a different way, follow this with another positive expression of how they are doing.
Always work on correcting one small thing at a time. In this way the student gains a lot of successes continually which further reinforce there positive image of themselves and how they are doing.
And don’t think that this applies only to children and the young; this applies to all of us no matter where we are in life’s journey.
In addition, we should always apply this principle of positive reinforcement to our own thinking and endeavors and not only to martial arts training but to all aspects of our lives.
Be kind to yourself and others and continually be aware of the power and effect of your words and how you say them to both yourself and to others.
Take care
Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)