A common topic which parents bring to instructors is their child’s progress through the belt ranks. Parents want to see their children succeed, and belt promotions can be an indicator of success to them. As with many conversations, this is one best held in the privacy of your office, away from other parents and children.

If this is a point of contention, it is best that you and the parent reach an agreement as adults, before discussing this with the child. In this regard, circumstances may or may not necessitate this discussion with the child. Typically, it is best that you talk with the child about his/her progress through the belt ranks in the same manner as you would with any other child of his/her age and skill level.

Meeting requirements to test and be promoted is not a foreign concept to parents. They understand that their child must meet certain requirements in academic settings to be passed from one grade to the next. Just as it would be a mistake to promote a child in school to the next grade if he/she has not met the academic standards, it would also be a mistake to do so in his/her martial arts training. This sends the wrong message to kids about their own responsibility, and sets them up for future difficulties. The better the working relationship which you have with parents, the easier it is to get this point across to them.

In these belt-rank discussions, it is important for you to understand that the parents are concerned about the best interest of their child. You can acknowledge this by telling them that you appreciate their interest and this opportunity to discuss their child’s training. By doing so, you have opened the door for communication, and expanded this from a discussion about when their child will be promoted, to a conversation about their child’s training in the martial arts.

This is how to handle the situation:

– Make the parents aware that all of you are working toward the same goal, making martial arts training a successful and rewarding experience for the child.

– Emphasize the child’s current successes in training.

– Explain the elements which you look for, as a professional instructor in the martial arts, which would indicate that a child is ready to test.

– It is important to tell them specifically what you are doing with their child in training to assist him or her in meeting the requirements for their next promotion.

– If they press for a date, and you are not certain when the child will be ready to test, set a date for your next conversation with them to discuss the child’s progress.

– Do not make promises which you are not sure you can keep.