This is a conversation EVERY Taekwon-Do instructor will have the opportunity to have again and again and again. (whether you like it or not!)
A few years back I had a parent come to me and tell me that her 6 yr old son has massive behavioral problems, that he was in the car and would not come out, that she wasn’t going to fight him anymore to get him to class and that she wanted to cancel her Taekwon-Do membership immediately.
It was their class time and I knew that she had at least 45 minutes on her hands so I asked her if she’d like to take a moment to discuss the situation. I also asked her to invite her son in and that he wouldn’t have to do class but that I wanted to say hi to him.
It was clear that she was frustrated and had made up her mind.
But what was it that she based her decision on?
I wanted to find out what was at the bottom of this.
After speaking with her for a few minutes it was clear that she had seen great improvement in her son, really wanted him to be in class and wanted more of what Taekwon-Do could offer. She just didn’t want to fight him any more.
So I took this little guy into the office and asked him a few questions. By asking the right questions, he shared with me (very angrily) that ” I hate Taekwon-Do because I can’t watch Spongebob!”
His classes were Tuesday and Thursday so I asked him if it would be okay if he only came to class twice a week and got to watch Spongebob three times a week.
His back straightened and his whole face lit up! He was ecstatic at the idea of getting more Spongebob than Taekwon-Do yet nothing had really changed. He ran, got his mom, and told her that he wanted to get his Black Belt.
He’s been training ever since.
Now, if I just listened to the frustrated mom, I’d have lost that student immediately.
There are so many things to point out here, like things that can be done ahead of time to minimize these situations.
Our entire enrollment process and beginner program is specifically designed, step by step, to build a support structure around the child that includes ourselves, the parents and school teachers. That’s for another time.
For now I want to focus on what to do when you’ve already gotten to the point of “I want to quit”.
Unfortunately, many Taekwon-Do instructors avoid this and don’t have this conversation because of what they automatically think about people who want to quit, and because of their own internal reactions (thoughts and concerns) they have when someone is wanting to quit.
The range of reactions spreads from “screw them” to “what’s wrong with me that they want to quit?” and every variation in between.
Before you can have any power in dealing with someone who has reached this point, you must be clear that this is not about you and your concerns. Rather it’s about the student and what they are dealing with.
If you’re busy dealing with your thoughts and concerns that are running through your head when you find out that someone wants to quit, there is a very low probability of you making any kind of difference with them.
Translation: Get over yourself and get interested in your student.
Ideally at this point you would have developed a great relationship with the parent and you are viewed as “on the same team”, looking out for the best interest of the child.
Some of the most common things parents will come to with are things like:
“My child wants to quit.”
“My child is getting bored with classes.”
“It’s too tough trying to get my child here for class.”
“They’ve got too much going on right now.”
“I think they want to try something else.”
You want to get that these examples and almost every other variation of them really means…
“Something is happening here and I have no idea what to do about it.”
Next to no one will ever say that to you because their pride won’t let them and most don’t even know that’s what’s happening! And you can’t tell people that because you might as well be telling them they don’t know how to parent (even if they really don’t).
Understanding that’s what’s going on here is your access to making a difference with the families you serve.
Your job at this point is to have a conversation with them as soon as possible. At that moment, if possible. Otherwise schedule a time when they can come in and talk to you.
During that conversation all there is to do is get to the bottom of what’s really happening. This means you have to dig past how they feel about what’s happening, what they think about what’s happening and just deal with WHAT’S HAPPENING!
In most cases, when you get to the bottom of what’s happening, it can easily be worked out. Additionally, (if you weren’t already) you are now seen as an expert in their eyes at something more than kicking and punching.
In their eyes you’ve solved their problem and become an expert of dealing powerfully with life.
Unfortunately there’s no script for this one because everyone’s situation is different. But if you make sure to schedule time to talk, stay interested in them and with what’s really happening with them you will be able to work things out from there.
You may even get to the bottom of things and find that it is inappropriate for that student to continue training. And if that’s the case, then you honor that.
Either way, when you take the time with your students to authentically get what they are dealing with and come to the conclusion that serves them best, even if they still quit, you’ll have someone out in the community that still speaks highly of you and what you have to offer.
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