Jiu-Jitsu And The Three Principles of Childhood Development
According to a 2017 study conducted by Harvard University, there are three principles that are essential to a child’s development: supportive relationships, core life skills, and stress reduction.
Once analyzed, Brazilian jiu-jitsu meets these requirements head on, making it one of the best sports to expose your child to at a young age. Below is a breakdown of how these three essential child development components are naturally applied in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
SUPPORT RESPONSIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Children and adults are both affected by what are called serve and return interactions. These interactions help shape brain architecture and social skills, and create strong emotional bonds.
For example, when a child gestures, cries, or attempts to speak, and an adult responds appropriately with a word, eye contact, or a hug, this is considered a properly executed serve and return interaction.
The importance of these interactions lasts for a lifetime, and despite their simplicity, they contribute to an intricate building of neural connections that improve communication and social skills. The relationships built between students, their instructors, and their peers, goes a long way in enriching their teamwork, sense of belonging, and overall happiness.
This is important, because serve and return responses are expected by children, and their absence (such as ignoring or berating a child rather than using positive reinforcement), poses a serious threat to a child’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
Being a small, family-oriented gym helps Marcus Aurelio Jiu Jitsu Academy give students the quality attention they need, while providing ample time for socializing. Students are carefully monitored and corrected when they make mistakes, and are always encouraged to do better through positive and motivating words and actions.
As a general rule, positive behavior within and without the academy is always rewarded, mostly with different colored stripes on a child’s belt. Blue stripes are handed out for good grades, white stripes for a child’s progress in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, red stripes for good behavior, and green stripes for healthy eating. This guarantees that students will stay on track, becoming confident and aware individuals–all while having fun!
STRENGTHENING CORE LIFE SKILLS
Oftentimes, we believe that people are born a certain way; lazy or diligent, brave or fearful, intelligent or lackluster.
Although there’s a grain of truth to how large a role personality plays in our personal let downs and achievements, many of our characteristics can be influenced for the the better with time and practice, all of which inevitably leads to a set of core life skills.
These life skills, like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, are passed on from parent to child and teacher to student. It should also be noted that these life skills must be taught, we aren’t born with them naturally. In the same way that a child whose parents don’t eat well will have a larger chance of growing up not knowing the basics of proper nutrition, children who aren’t taught Brazilian jiu-jitsu early on will have a harder time learning how to focus and plan later on.
Skills like these fall under what are called executive functions and self-regulation. Executive functions and self-regulation allow us to multi-task, organize ourselves, and accomplish the goals we set for ourselves. Although this isn’t to say that children don’t already learn these skills at home, for full-time working parents, Brazilian jiu-jitsu reinforces this, and provides the added bonus of socialization, day-care (for an hour at least), exercise, and a healthy shaping of priorities, as well as the introduction of priceless life skills, such as self-defense, patience, and discretion.
As stated in the 2017 Harvard study led by the Center on the Developing Child, the third most important factor when it comes to raising children has to do with stress reduction.
While a little stress can promote healthy competition, creativity, and problem-solving skills, large amounts of stress can deplete a child’s energies, making them incapable of practicing their executive functions. In the study, the stressors referred to are poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, and other extreme situations that are thankfully not the norm for our students. However, that said, we do worry about our students and their safety in today’s bully society. Nowadays, when harassment can reach into all spheres of life, from the physical to the online, our aim is to teach children how to shore up their defenses against peer attacks like these from a young age.
But this isn’t to say that we’d like kids to fight their battles alone. Our gym provides a stable, trustworthy environment, where we strive to create a safe space where kids can feel comfortable enough to tell us about any problems they’re having.
Stability is a key factor in helping maintain a child’s routine, and it’s a core component of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, where practice and order are a must. Patience is required of both student and teacher, and this makes for a productive environment that will challenge and delight children as they learn what it means to be consistent, goal-oriented, and helpful individuals.