At certain stages of childhood, kids like to play ball, practice sports in groups or participate in activities with their little friends. But how do we motivate them to pick up the gi and go train or compete?
To Rickson Gracie, the most effective way to motivate your kids is, first, by respecting their wishes, preventing the incentive from turning into imposition.
To Rickson — himself a son and father to strong athletes — the biggest error consists of forcing the child. "They, above all, need to be having fun”, he once said. “Any type of pressure from the parents turns an activity into a nightmare for everybody."
Rickson then remembered an episode that happened at home. When Kron was 12, he turned around one day and admitted: "Dad, I don't want to go train anymore."
Rickson reacted with serenity: "Wonderful!"
And added the incentive, "What do you want to do, then?"
Kron explained that he wanted to skateboard, and Dad approved. They went to the store and came back with a brand-new board and safety equipment, to the delight of the young Gracie — who dove deep in the future Olympic sport, even competing.
One day, however, Kron hurt his foot and was forced to take a break. Then he started practicing again, and again hurt his foot. "Naturally, thus, he again found appeal in jiu-jitsu, and picked up the gi to train with his friends."
To Rickson, the most important thing is to be positive when motivating your kids. If the passion for jiu-jitsu is something that eludes the control of the parents, the best way is to make everything pleasurable, fun and demand-free:
"The advice I give parents is that they make sure that BJJ is always surrounded by a climate that's friendly, positive and pleasant. If the kids are getting tired, give them a week off — invite them to go surfing. The worst that can happen is for the kid to think, 'Oh, no! This is like the army; I need to go to school and to jiu-jitsu even when I don't want to!' In truth, all we need is for them to make it through this phase, until the time in which BJJ will help them even more, starting in their teens."
Following the footsteps of a living legend is no easy task. I honor your children for wanting that path.
Thank you for sharing your experience