Messy Emotions & Raising Resilient Children

At least once a day, a kid cries in one of our classes.

Every day it’s a different child, and every day it’s for a different reason.

Maybe they got hit in the face with a dodge ball. Maybe they got fed up because backrolls are a struggle. Maybe they’re hungry, tired, or had a long day at school. Sometimes, they cry because they don’t know what else to do with the jumbled up mess of feelings and thoughts inside.

Rest assured – your kids are safe at SBG! Jiu Jitsu is the “gentle art” of submission. Your kids train in a safe, high quality facility with well-trained coaches, who keep an eye on them.

But the environment can be stressful, and students do get overwhelmed. It’s noisy and there are kids running around. Sometimes they take a tumble; sometimes they lose the game; and sometimes they get submitted. They get scared, angry, and upset. They scream, “It’s not fair!” And yes, sometimes they do cry.

And it’s just the place where your child needs to be.

At home, that’s the sort of environment that parents avoid. Sometimes, parents try to manage a child’s difficult emotions by avoiding anything that causes meltdowns and tantrums by giving into the child’s every wish. Some simply write off behavior as “bad” or “undisciplined”. Or some parents tell their kids to toughen up and stop crying. And why wouldn’t they? Those situations can be as unbearable for parents as they are for kids.

But nothing is gained by avoiding those difficult emotions, which is why we’ve made this a place where it’s safe for children to explore those emotions. It’s a place where they can express those feelings, learn and grow from them, and know that they’re going to be okay.

Our coaches will never tell your child that there’s something wrong with them. Instead, our coaches will stand by them and walk them through the tough situations. That’s how we raise children to be strong, confident, and resilient.

“Emotional management is key in resilience. Teach your kids that all emotions are OK,…teach them that after feeling their feelings, they need to think through what they’re doing next.”From “10 Tips for Raising Resilient Kids

There’s nothing wrong with what a child is feeling.

Anger, sadness, frustration are just as essential as joy, love, and contentment. What matters is how they cope with those emotions. As adults, we should look for opportunities to teach kids these essential life skills.

In the Growing Gorillas curriculum, we have built-in training for that kind of emotional management. Just like drilling the perfect armbar, practice in managing frustration becomes routine. The drills for jiu jitsu are designed to learn how to get out of a tough spot. Through games, sparring, and team activities, the physical and emotional drills are a regular part of the training process. Rather than avoid tough times, our program embraces those as opportunities to sharpen skills.

Yes, kids cry. But they also laugh, learn, build friendships, and are on their way to becoming healthier, happier, and more resilient children every day.

Coach Kisa