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Rescue Your Kids From “Affluenza” – Teach Them Grit!

Category : FC Youth News

What I would like to discuss is a condition that I see many young athletes suffer from. These athletes – many of them, but not all of them, coming from well-to-do families – display an apathetic, indifferent attitude toward challenging situations, difficult training, tough coaches, and most any obstacle that lies in their path toward their goals.

At every obstacle, they turn back. They may have great talent and coaching, but they are missing the mental toughness that is required to be a high performer. Usually, this condition exists because the adult role models in their lives shelter them from challenges, swoop in before they can fail, and excuse entitled attitudes by blaming coaches, teachers, and other adults who are actually trying to teach their kids to be a bit tougher.

This lack of grit and mental fortitude is common, and I have written about this before. Each time, I received the same question numerous times: Can I teach kids grit? In one word, YES. In fact, it is our responsibility as parents and coaches to teach this.

Here are three simple steps you can take to in still grit, determination and self control.

1. Allow them to FAIL: In fact, encourage them to fail! Failure is a MANDATORY component of both learning and becoming mentally tough. Children who are not allowed to fail never have any obstacles to overcome, and blame things outside of themselves for their failure. Every time they encounter an obstacle, they wait to be carried over it, they wait for the problem to be solved for them.

2. Praise Them for Effort and Tenacity: if you want an athlete with sports “affluenza,” then by all means praise him for his talent, intelligence, and ability. But if you want a determined, gritty athlete, then praise tenacity.

3. Be a Model Grit for Your Athletes: This is a tough one, but remember that kids hear what we say, but remember what we do. Don’t complain about things out of your control that effected a sports outcome, or blame your boss or co-workers because you did not get the promotion. Instead, be honest about your disappointment with your kids, explain to them how while you are upset, you are going to work even harder, that this is a goal worth attaining, and soon achievement will come. Demonstrate for your kids that what you are doing is not easy, but it is worth the struggle, disappointment and perseverance required of achieving it.

Our society is coining terms like “affluenza” because too many adults do not have the courage to be role models, and to create boundaries for our children.

There is no better place than FightClub to learn GRIT.  There is no better time than now to bring you kids in for a lesson.


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What makes a bully magnet?

Category : FC Youth News

 Hey FC Parents & Kids,

Another school year has begun. It’s a long school year and I’m sure the kids will be faced with many challenges. We all hope that our kids do not encounter bullies but if they do what I show them at FC will help them in so many ways. Here is an article from 2016 that gives you good perspective of what to look for and how to avoid these issues in the first place. I love reading it at the beginning of the school year to remind me of the warning signs.

Feel free to forward this to any other parents so they have the information before it happens. I will also be talking to the kids about bullying this week to make sure they have the information.

See you at FC,

What to do if your child is being bullied at school
Adriana Barton – The Globe and Mail

Schoolyard bullies don’t pick on just anyone. Like wolves culling caribou, they single out the wounded, the stragglers, the loners who stray from the herd. More often than not, bullies are the popular kids, the ringleaders with a competitive streak, researchers say. In their baboon-like displays of dominance and control, children who bully are simply aping what happens in the wild (or the political arena). That’s small comfort for bully targets and their parents. The best way to fight back, according to new research, is to make sure that tormenting your kid is not worth the bully’s while. The Globe and Mail spoke to three specialists on how to inoculate your child against bullying.

How to tell if your kid is being bullied
One of the biggest issues with bullying “is that many kids, indeed, do not tell anybody,” said Jaana Juvonen, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Juvonen urges parents to take notice if a child is suddenly reluctant to go to school or doesn’t want to join the kids they used to play with. Children who are being victimized may complain of headaches and stomach aches, especially in the morning. Young children may become clingy with their parents, whereas older children tend to isolate themselves. “Any of these changes in the child’s behaviour could be a warning sign,” Juvonen said.

What makes a bully magnet?
Kids who become targets are more likely to be shy and timid, and tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety to begin with, researchers say. Standing out from the crowd is another risk factor, said Susan Swearer, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and co-director of the global Bullying Research Network. Whether they stick out because of their race, religion, gender identity, disability or sexual orientation, “these are kids who are somehow perceived as different,” she said. Kids such as these may need extra coaching on how to deal with bullying before it starts. Nevertheless, there is more to bullying than the target or aggressor, Juvonen noted. Peers play a critical role in reinforcing the behaviour, she said. While most kids agree that bullying is wrong, ganging up against a social outcast strengthens their bonds to the group.

When a child grabs another’s backpack and everyone laughs and tosses it around the school bus, “there’s this sense of being on the right side, feeling united,” Juvonen said. Bullying someone without an audience is “very rare.” Group dynamics, she added, are a good starting point for talking to children about the difference between a good buddy and a fair-weather friend.

Coach your child on how to defuse an attack
A child’s reaction to the first taunt can have an impact on whether he or she becomes a perpetual target, Juvonen said. When children respond submissively and show they’re hurt, “that can be rewarding for the bully,” she said. Similarly, if a child gets heated and tries to retaliate, “that seems to increase their risk of getting targeted again,” she said.

Humour may be a good strategy, according to some research. While it can be tough to pull off, cracking a joke in response to an attack may deprive the bully of the payoff, Juvonen surmised. Tony Volk, a developmental psychologist at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., described bullying as a “cost-benefit behaviour.” Bullies, over time, tend to get more resources, more reputation and dominance, according to Volk’s research (and, as adults, more sex). “So why don’t they do it all the time?” he said. “Because it can be costly to attack the wrong people.” Children can deter bullies by getting support from teachers and other adults who will discipline the child, and by bringing in peers who can help them stand up against tormentors. For bullies, Volk said, “that raises the cost.”

Help your child make at least one good friend
A kid who sits alone in the school lunch room day after day is an easy target for victimization, which can lead to mental-health problems that persist into adulthood. Having just one loyal friend cuts the risk of long-term consequences from bullying by 50 per cent, Volk said. “It’s the biggest protective factor that we know – more so than supportive parenting, or a positive school environment, or self-esteem.” Kids who are bullied tend to internalize negative feedback from their peers, no matter how much parents tell them that it’s not their fault, Volk explained. The friend doesn’t have to be someone who steps up and stops the bully. “It’s more that the child has someone who can say to them afterward, ‘It’s not you, it’s them,’ ” he said. “That’s a very positive message from a peer that can shore them up.”

A good friend can be hard to come by, especially if a child has had a falling-out with a peer group or moved to a new school. Parents can encourage children to seek out new social relationships through extracurricular activities such as sports, theatre and arts groups, Swearer said. “Often, friendships are developed through shared interests.” Think twice before confronting the bully’s parents. Calling the other child’s parents may be your first instinct, but in many cases, “that’s the worst strategy,” Juvonen said. She recommends that parents listen to their child, without letting their own emotions run high, and calmly ask about the facts.

Children tend to tell only partial truths, especially in cases when they were the instigator, she pointed out. Often, when two sets of parents hear different stories from their kids, “each parent is going to feel like it was their child who was the target,” she said. Volk pointed out that the personality traits associated with bullying – including lower levels of honesty and humility – have genetic components, “and are certainly influenced by the home environment.” If a bully’s parents share traits such as competitiveness and an inflated sense of self-worth, chances are they will respond to another parent by saying, “Your kid does stupid things and my kid has lots of friends. The problem isn’t my kid – it’s your kid,” he said. Conversations about bullying are often easier among parents who have known each other for some time, Swearer said. “I think, partly, parents have to make the decision [to discuss it] based on the relationship they have with the other parent.”

Talk to your child’s educators
Since bullying tends to escalate away from adult eyes, it may help to ask teachers and schoolyard monitors to keep an eye out for your child during lunch hour and recess. “It’s just really important to have a lot of supervision, period,” Swearer said. Some schools provide lunch-hour groups where vulnerable children can eat with others.
Many school districts have adopted programs that address the broader bullying dynamic. One intervention, called KiVa, uses role-playing exercises, classroom lessons and a virtual-reality video game aimed at teaching bystanders to intervene in bullying.

In a recent study conducted by Juvonen, Finnish kids involved in this program felt better about their schools and themselves, compared with children in schools without the KiVa program. What’s more, kids who had been victimized “benefited the most,” she said.

Programs that have been more widely studied in North America include Social Emotional Learning (SEL). This approach focuses on teaching kids how to manage their emotions, achieve positive goals, feel empathy for others and maintain positive relationships, which are helpful skills for all children. Teachers and parents can check out the SEL resource finder at selresources.com, developed by Shelley Hymel, a specialist in educational psychology at the University of British Columbia. According to Swearer, “research is really demonstrating a link between better social emotional learning skills and lower levels of bullying behaviour.”



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Fail Fast. Failing often and Early

Category : FC Youth News

Hey FC Parents,

These are not exactly the words you want to hear with the kids going back to school.

Let me explain…

To me failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of being successful. Failure teaches us so much, why then do we avoid it? Shame or ego possibly – At the end of the day avoiding failures means to avoid the #1 best teacher of the human race – Failure. Show me any successful person out there from Olympic athlete to top leaders and when you talk to them they will tell you that they failed a lot to become successful.

I have a simple motto that I use for myself… “Try – Test – Fail”. I apply it to all so many aspects of my training and life. It works so well for me and I want to show every student that trains at FightClub this same perspective. Too many kids trying to be perfectionists and they need to unlearn this mentality quickly or they will not learn all they need to learn from school and life.

The big question becomes can you stomach the losses?

The answer should always be yes I can! What I’m doing at FightClub is not a secret, more like a gift that I want to share with everyone.  My hopes and wishes are that you pass this gift onward and grow this wonderful art.

Yours in learning,

PS – Found this great article about: Why the world needs you to let your kids fail. Awesome read!

Why the world needs you to let your kids fail
by Craig and Marc Kielburger

Silicon Valley has an unofficial motto: “Fail.”

Whenever we visit the California tech hub, we see evidence of pro-failure leanings. Facebook’s office features posters that read “Fail Fast.” Failing “often” and “early” are also encouraged. There’s even a global conference for tech entrepreneurs, called FailCon, to learn from worst practices.

In the environment where brilliant minds innovate and billionaires are born, failure is inevitable, and seen as a necessary step to success. But in our own work and personal lives, there is still a stigma attached to failure.

That fear of failure is being passed on to the next generation through failure avoidance, with some parents taking drastic measures to ensure their child’s success well into adulthood—like attending their kids’ job interviews.

Failure protection changes how kids see themselves. It also got us thinking about how they might tolerate and respond to failure in others. Could failure avoidance stunt our kids’ empathy?

Learning from failure helps build not only self-esteem, but self compassion, a kind of internal emotional maintenance that involves separating your identity from the blunder. You are not your mistake. If we never taste failure, we don’t experience that evolution—from anger or disappointment to healing, knowledge and growth—understanding that the whole person has not been compromised. The bug in your software doesn’t define you; it can actually make you stronger.

If young people don’t get the chance to test their failure response and hone self-compassion, they might lose empathy for others.
As a dad and an uncle to two little girls, we understand the instinct to protect kids from heartbreak. Helicopter parenting, however, has taken the rescue mission too far.

Well-meaning moms and dads take over tasks that may be difficult or frustrating, from tying shoe laces to completing homework assignments. Organized activities award participation medals and competition is eliminated from many team sports. We create artificial metrics for success so that kids can avoid losing house league soccer matches. (“We don’t keep score; we’re all winners!”) Children are rolled in emotional bubble wrap. The consequence is that kids lose out on opportunities for personal growth.

It’s crucial that children gain the confidence to take healthy risks and aggressively pursue goals, all lessons lost with failure avoidance. It seems to us that learning to cope with failure also teaches kids how to forgive themselves, which in turn helps them learn forgiveness and compassion for others.

As they grow up, bubble-wrapped kids will encounter homelessness, unemployment, and people living with mental illness. But when you’ve always have a safety net, it’s hard to understand why others hit the ground after a fall. The assumption that everyone has a rescue team in place is an easy fallacy. It’s the most privileged children whose parents have the means to leave the training wheels on throughout life, who learn that obstacles are like switches that can be turned off. So the less fortunate are more likely to be misunderstood, or written off as lazy and further marginalized.

It’s offensive to be intolerant towards race and gender, but it’s still culturally appropriate to accuse someone of failure by circumstance—to dismiss the person and ignore the obstacles. (Homeless? Why don’t you just get a job?). We parents and youth mentors can all take a cue from tech entrepreneurs. Let kids fail young—while they are still in their beta phase, adaptable and resilient. Let them struggle with a math problem. Let them audition for the lead role when you know they’re likely to be cast as an understudy. Let them make mistakes that will build self-care, and even empathy.

We could create a more culturally compassionate society if we all failed a bit more often.


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To Coach or Mentor?

Category : FC Youth News

Hey FC Parents and Kids,

Many of you have commented on the positive ways I interact with your kids – Thank you for your feedback and kind words. Let me explain in a little more detail my approach and why I feel it is so effective. For me it comes down to two approaches – Coaching vs Mentoring. Let me explain the difference …

Coaching and Mentoring are not the same thing. My experiences support the conclusion that mentoring is a power free, two-way mutually beneficial learning situation where the mentor provides advice, shares knowledge and experiences, and teaches using a low pressure, self-discovery approach.

Teaching using ‘learning’ versus ‘teacher to student’ model and, being willing to not just question for self discovery, but also freely sharing their own experiences and skills with the partners. The mentor is both a source of information/knowledge and a Socratic questioner. If I am a coach my concern is your performance and enrolling your support in the vision/direction. A coach therefore has a set agenda to reinforce or change skills and behaviours. Mentors on the other hand are facilitators and teachers allowing the partners to discover their own direction.

Students with good mentors would say thing like this…”They let me struggle so I could learn.  A good mentor….”Never provided solutions—always asking questions to surface a students own thinking and let they find solutions.”

Our public schools cannot adopt this approach. There are simply too many kids in each class and teachers are pressed for time under school board curriculum formats. What I provide for the kids as a mentor is something I believe our kids will need a lot more of in the future. That is to be self driven and self learning.

At FightClub they are on a journey through Systema with me as the guide. Ask yourself – what kid doesn’t like to go on journey? 🙂

See you all in September,


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The Importance of Resiliency in our Youth

Category : FC Youth News

Hey FC Parents,

Back to school is just around the corner can you believe it? I wanted to talk to you today about giving your kids something a little different this year. Resiliency is an attribute that is so important for our kids to have in modern life. They are exposed to so much information (unfortunately most of it bad) and it leaves them feeling confused, frustrated and consequently with an ever growing sense of anxiety. These are not my opinions but medical facts coming out from our highest educational institutions. Kids need to be mentally tough enough to handle all they see and hear these days, but who teaches this or even talks about it?

Here is an article I found that might highlight what I mean a little more clearly. Feel free to share this with parents you know and care about. Tell them to bring their kids for a few free lessons so they can see how important and vital the lessons taught at FightClub are for kids.

Our Precious Little Snowflakes
The Globe and Mail

The other day a proud father showed me a photo of his son’s graduation. There was the beaming scholar, diploma in hand, tasselled mortarboard on head, ready to take on the world. “Congratulations,” I said. But something puzzled me. The kid is only three feet tall. He’s graduating from nursery school. “Since when do nursery schools have graduation ceremonies?” I asked. “Oh, they have graduation ceremonies for everything these days,” he said. “It was a big deal. All the parents came. Grandparents too. And of course the nannies.”

This celebration of a child’s every accomplishment, however slight, is something new. By the time a kid reaches 18, she will have accumulated boxes and boxes of diplomas, medals, ribbons, trophies and certificates for just showing up – whether she’s any good at anything or not.

There’s also a good chance that her parents will still be as heavily involved as ever – guiding, advising, applauding, and doing everything they can to protect their little snowflake from any sense of failure or rejection. The task of parental rescuing now extends well beyond the age the kid is old enough to vote.

A few weeks ago I found myself sharing a table with several business executives and a dean from a leading community college. All had stories to tell about overly protective parents. The dean described parents who help their kids write their essays (these kids are 20), and complain to him if they think their children’s marks are too low. A bank executive told us that it’s not uncommon for parents to call the HR department if they think their kid got an unfair performance appraisal. (He made me swear not to name the bank.) A manager with a major multinational told us how a mother called his office to complain about her son’s too lowly job description.

“I hear stories all the time from recruiters,” says Nate Laurie, who runs Jobpostings, Canada’s leading online student job network. “Parents call the recruiter and ask if he got their child’s resumé, or why their child didn’t get the job. When the kid goes for an interview, they go with her and sit in the waiting room.”

When baby boomer kids were young, there were so many of us that we were nothing special. Our parents never told us how exceptional we were. They never would have dreamed of complaining to the principal if we flunked math. They yelled at us instead. The threshold of adulthood was the day we got our bachelor’s degree. After that, we were on our own.

Today people have fewer kids, so it’s natural to be more invested in them. There is no such thing as an “average” child any more. Each one is a unique and special individual whose ego and talents must be nurtured like a hothouse flower so that she’ll reach her full potential. Parents pay more attention to their children than ever before in history. And they’re stuck to them like glue.

When I went to university I called home once a week, on Sunday night, on a pay phone at the end of the hall that I shared with 29 other girls. We talked for about three minutes. They knew nothing about my life, and that was fine with me. Today, parents (especially moms) text their kids 20 times a day. They know the smallest details of their children’s lives.

“A lot of parents can’t separate from their kids,” says my friend Barbara Moses, who’s a career counsellor. “Their identity is overly tied to their children’s success and failure. I hear mothers say, ‘We are having trouble finding a job.’ ”

One reason “we” are having trouble finding a job, according to Mr. Laurie, is that expectations are far too high. “Do what you love,” we urge our children, as if there’s a dream job out there just for them. But “do what you love” is probably the worst career advice in the world. It implants the notion that doing what you love can produce a sustainable livelihood – which isn’t always the case, alas. It also sends the message that if you don’t wind up doing what you love, then you’re a flop. That’s how you get freelance writers who are still living in a basement apartment at age 35 and wondering why things haven’t worked out the way they were supposed to.

Sometimes you have to compromise in life, but we don’t want to break this crushing news to our children. Personally, I’ve met far too many young adults who graduate from university with plans to work in development/save the world/find a career in environmental sustainability. There’s nothing wrong with these noble aspirations. What’s amazing is that no adults have ever levelled with them.

Reality will bite soon enough, of course. The idea that your job should be your passion is a misguided romantic notion that only the upper-middle-class can afford to entertain. In fact, most people wind up in areas that nobody ever talks about. “Insurance is a very interesting field,” Mr. Laurie assured me. “But no one says ‘I want to go into insurance.’ ”

The trouble is, snowflakes are not very resilient. They tend to melt when they hit the pavement. How will our snowflake children handle the routine stresses of the grownup world – the obnoxious colleagues, pointless meetings, promotions that don’t come their way? How will they cope when no one thinks they’re special any more?

I’m afraid they could be in for a hard landing.


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