From the parent who insists their child should test even when you know, they know, and everyone else knows they aren’t ready… to the parent who drops the kid at the door and walks away saying, “Billy hasn’t had his meds yet today. GOOD LUCK!” – we’ve all got a laundry list of stories about the parents of our students that range from funny to frightening and sometimes just downright bizarre.
It’s as if the parents need what you offer more than the kids do.
So what do you do with these parents? How do you keep them from undoing everything you’ve accomplished with their child as soon as they get home? HOW DO YOU TRAIN THE PARENTS?
At KTKD we’ve created a 5 step system to do just that – To train the parents!
We started tackling this years ago and what we’ve found is that not only are our parents well trained, these 5 steps have made an enormous difference in retention and student involvement in activities as well.
So let’s jump in…
Step 1 – Laying the foundation
When you meet someone for the first time you have the opportunity intentionally create that relationship and all of your expectations.
This begins the moment a parent walks through the door. One idea we got from Master Bill Clark in Florida was to bow to new prospects the moment they walk in the door. There are many reasons why this makes a huge difference in the minds of your prospects, but most importantly it sends a strong message to them, saying that they have just entered a place like nowhere else they go in their life.
Especially in western countries, it is very rare for anyone to be bowed to. It is a demonstration of respect and catches many people off guard. But no matter what their reaction is, they are given a clear sign that you and your school are distinct from all the people they interact with and places they go throughout their day.
Think about what you do when you encounter someone or some place that is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. In that moment you aren’t quite sure what to do or how to act, and for most people that can be very uncomfortable. This gives you the opportunity to put them at ease and introduce them to how you operate and what you expect. All these things should be covered during your introductory process. Everything from explaining how and why we bow, to saying “Yes Sir/Ma’am” or “No Sir/Ma’am”, to explaining to the parent how your relationship with them will work.
Step 2 – “Know Your Role”
Now that the new student or parent has gone through the introductory process and are clear about what is expected and how your relationship with them will work, it is important for you to guide them, to teach them, to show them the actions they can take to fulfill on those expectations.
This is where the idea for our Parent Coaching Class came in. We created a seminar for parents where we cover things such as keeping children motivated, possible pitfalls for parents with training, how to help children train at home, and explain the long term expectations for training which creates the picture of Taekwon-Do as a lifestyle and not some short-term, seasonal activity like most sports.
The amazing thing that happened when we started doing this was that the families who participated trained longer, paid more, attended more activities and events, and related to Taekwon-Do training as more than just an activity. The most common feedback we got was that Taekwon-Do has just become a part of their family.
Step 3 – Accountability
Another thing we adopted with our students during their first 6 weeks of training was homework sheets. We picked the things we wanted kids to be doing at home and created a weekly homework sheet with actions to take for personal care, eating right, demonstrating respect, setting goals, training at home, etc. This sheet is to be posted somewhere in plain view, such as on the refrigerator door, where the whole family sees it all the time.
The intention of the homework sheet is to begin to create positive habits in the lives of our students and to educate the parents as to what we expect.
We are in the process now of creating a homework sheet for our adult students as well.
Step 4 – Acknowledgement
People love acknowledgement. Think about how you feel when you get recognized for something you have accomplished. Think about how you feel when someone genuinely tells you that they love you. True recognition and acknowledgement go a long way to making students and their families feel great about being in and around your school.
You don’t need to go around sucking up to your students and trying to make them feel good. That will actually have the opposite effect and you’ll be seen as fake and inauthentic. Soon no one will believe any of the stuff you say and that breakdown of trust does enormous damage to, and can even end the relationship between you and your student.
However, when a student does actually accomplish something they should be recognized. A few examples include students passing a belt test. This should be a big deal and should be recognized accordingly in front of family, friends and peers. Families should also be acknowledged for the role they play in supporting students during their training. When students compete, you can have them come to the front of the room and share with their class about their experiences.
Those are just a few examples and you can be as creative as you like.
Step 5 – Honoring Your Word
This may be the last, but is the most important of the five steps I am outlining today.
When you consistently do what you said you would do and by when you said you would do it with your students and their parents, or if you aren’t going to do what you said and you are up front about it and handle the consequences, you develop a powerful relationship with your students and their families. They know that above and beyond your expertise in Taekwon-Do, that they can trust you and count on you.
This high level of integrity is paramount. If you are teaching true Taekwon-Do (which is more than just kicks and punches, rather a way of life) you need a solid foundation to build from. Without that solid foundation, the “way of life” YOU are offering is nothing special, you’ll be perceived as a fraud and people will see right through you. People can get lied to and let down everywhere else in life. It’s your job to make sure that is not happening where you are.
Those are the five steps we’ve created at Karstadt Taekwon-Do so that our instructors, students and parents are all on the same page.
Even with all this, there are still those parents who continue to amaze us and provide fodder for a good story here and there. For the most part, these actions set the tone for the environment we want in our school, train the parents, and make life easier for instructors and students alike.
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org