I Don't Want To Go To Class

"Mom/Dad! I don't wanna go to class today!" 

 Dylan & Chelsea in October 2005.

Dylan & Chelsea in October 2005.

I know every parent in this school has heard this at least a dozen times. I even have parents come in so frustrated that they want to kill their children because they are just such a pain in the butt about coming to class at times.

It isn’t that they don’t like it when they get here. They always have a smile on their face when class is over and they always feel like they have accomplished something while they are here. So why all the resistance? Don’t they know by now how great this is for them?

Well, think about it from the kid’s point of view: I have been told what to do all day at school. When I get home I just want to log on to my iPad, Xbox or Playstation and let my mind go where it wants to go and just chill.

Kids live in the moment. They don’t think about next week, next month or next year. All they see is that I am having fun here and now on my console blowing stuff up with my friends. Why should I get up and do something else? Especially if I am having problems with my form or sparring! Why work on it? Why get better? I am comfortable and having fun here and now. For the next 5 minutes (which will turn into hours, of course) I am going to sit here and be a slave to my impulses as well as the instant gratification I am getting sitting here. Another scenario far less common is that they are actually outside playing with their friends. Why stop playing with them to go somewhere else? It has the same emotional reaction.

 Dylan in April 2007.

Dylan in April 2007.

As parents, while we can understand this feeling, we also know it is not what is best for them. Especially, if they are facing a new frustration. It is our job to think for the long term and see past the next 5 minutes, hours, days or years.

Yes, the adult perspective is “I don’t want to deal with this right now.” But the parent perspective should be “Get in the car or you can give me the power cable to the console!”

I know it is hard at times. But in the long run I know kids love it once they get to class. It doesn’t matter what their mood is when they come through the door. What matters is how they feel when they leave. So long as they leave in good spirits and have done their best on the floor, I know they still love it. I can see, based on the effort in class, when it is time to pull the plug. And I promise you, if I ever see something that makes me believe they really don’t like it I will let you know and we will be done. Why? I would rather pull the plug early so there is chance that they will come back in the future than for it to become such a negative experience they will never even think of doing it again.

 Dylan Nelson, 3rd Degree Black Belt, Level 1 Instructor

Dylan Nelson, 3rd Degree Black Belt, Level 1 Instructor

When does it get better? Let me see... My instructor’s son Dylan Nelson started when he was 4 year old. I remember him as a little boy running around hitting others with noodles and throwing dodge ball at everybody, giggling. He is now 16, a straight A student, a 3rd Degree Black Belt, a Level 1 instructor who loves his time on the training floor, loves hanging out with his Taekwondo peers and even makes decent (for a teenager) money teaching Taekwondo classes. Yet, every time I call Mr. Nelson to talk about kids and martial arts training (and we call each other about 2 to 3x a week) he still has this exact conversation with his son nearly EVERY TIME! IT DRIVES HIM FREAKING CRAZY TOO!

But Mr. Nelson also tells me that after the night is done, all Dylan can talk about is what happened in class, how he sparred with this and that, how he broke boards with this jump spin kick, etc.

So I know, Mr. Nelson made the right call. He never let Dylan quit when he said “I don’t want to go to class today.”


 Dylan (on the right side) with pants full of chevrons in February 2008. Mr. Spicar front left, Mrs. Spicar in the back row, left.

Dylan (on the right side) with pants full of chevrons in February 2008. Mr. Spicar front left, Mrs. Spicar in the back row, left.