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Life Skills & Tips for Parents

Yin Yang symbol. Flow and change.

Plans Change and that's okay! 

My heart goes out to all these kids and even adults that don't believe they have options. I hear this a lot when talking to people now days. They believe they have to make big decisions and that whatever they decide is final. As if there is no turning back or changing your direction later on.

Many teens and young adults I talk with are preparing for college or missions or whatever and having loads of anxiety because they are afraid of choosing the wrong degree or career or life choice. People are afraid they'll choose the wrong option as if there is "one right answer." Or they don't want to let their family down. So instead of it being about learning and growth and figuring out what works in life they make their choices based on what will others think or not letting someone down. It's really sad.

​Just know that it's okay to change your plans and readjust. I changed from a karate teacher after 20 years to a mortgage loan officer at the super mature age of 32 years old. I tell my kids to change their minds when they feel like hitting each other. If we're making dinner and don't have all the ingredients needed we change our plans. If you go to work and drive a certain route that has a road closed down you better be willing to change your plan. In karate if someone moves a certain way you change your plans. If your budget changes you have to adjust. This is common sense.​

Let go of expectations and be fluid so that you can have more fun while figuring things out. There is no "one size fits all" for all situations and people. That would be crazy. People will put expectations on you that are not fair or accurate. That's for them to figure out. Trust yourself. Listen to your parents, elders and teachers but remember that ultimately you have to figure out what works for you.​Ask questions, work hard and ride the waves!

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The Gift of Criticism

It's easy to feel bullied when you hear criticism or suggestions. The problem is this keeps you stuck and feeling like a victim. Another way to look at criticism is simply as feedback for learning and growth. We can learn from another perspective even if we don't agree. Kids benefit greatly when a parent shares tips and tricks and Do's and Don'ts. Adults should question their habits and belief patterns in order to grow and develop so that we're being our best selves and able to flow with the challenges in life.

In Life Skills we practice looking for the gems in these moments because in the long run they make our lives even better! 

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The Bigger Picture

When we have problems in life, it's easy to hyper-focus on the one thing or area that is causing pain. While it's smart to find solutions and problem solve, it's helpful to pause sometimes and look at the bigger picture. Notice the other areas you have done or are doing amazing work. This can remind you how far you've come and how capable you really are at handling the waves of life. This also applies to our kids! 

DALL·E 2024-05-10 17.07.05 - A scene in a domestic setting, such as a living room or kitch

Parenting Tip to Stop Getting Offended

One of the most powerful things you can do as a parent is to STOP getting your feelings hurt by your kids. It’s easy for parents to be focused on the WAY their child is talking to them or treating them but many times parents miss the bigger picture and opportunity to teach and guide to their kids.


When we’re talking with our kids we receive information by listening, watching, feeling, asking questions, hearing tones, observing patterns, etc.


We give information through our words, facial expressions, body language, time, priorities, volume, intensity, calmness, questions, patterns.


Here are some of the buttons that parents may feel come up at times: You don’t respect me – You don’t value my time or work – You’re trying to manipulate me – Taking advantage of me – I feel like a bad parent – I see my bad habits coming out in you – I’m ruining your life – You’re ruining my life – I can’t do this.


Sometimes these concerns are valid and should be worked on. But also remember that kids have fears and expectations that they don’t even know how to articulate or where they’re coming from and they’re not sure what to do with it. Imagination in the negative is very powerful. Parents may tell their kids “you need to talk about your feelings” but kids honestly don’t know what that means or how to accurately identify what their fear is unless you have taught them how. Many adults have a difficult time identifying their true buttons so have compassion for the kids while you’re helping them figure it out.


One of the most common mistakes parents make is to get offended by their child’s reactions, words and behaviors. When it becomes about your own fear or insecurity, you’ll be more focused on stopping what’s making you uncomfortable and controlling the behavior rather than seeing the opportunity to guide and figure out what’s appropriate and best for the situation. This doesn’t mean a child’s bad behavior should go unaddressed. It means focus on the bigger picture and be the guide.   


What parents can do is practice curiosity by asking questions, looking at past experiences, how do things normally go, what worked in the past, what didn’t work in the past, is it just revisiting an old habit to work on, is it really a big deal, do I need to change, does my child need to adjust, do we need to change up our checklist, etc.


Kids are smart and with the right information and support they can handle things in such cool ways. As parents we can learn and grow with our kids at the same time. Teamwork is awesome!


  • Getting offended is an easy way to make the situation worse and less productive.


  • If someone is charged and upset, a cool down or time out is helpful before you can address things.


  • Don’t wait for the next “bad situation” before you start working on things you know will happen again. Make a game plan and practice ahead of time.

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Accept Your Cringe

It's all about finding the humor in life's moments and being able to laugh at ourselves.

Cringe moments can be the way we overreact to a situation, a bad attitude, feeling bad because of a mistake, unrealistic expectations, etc. Once you can laugh at a weird situation or relax and see that everything is okay, you'll be able to let go and actually figure out better ways to handle things.

When you get to a place where you can laugh or find the humor in a situation, you're moving in a great direction. 


Reward Systems for Parents

Start off by getting into the mind of your child. It’s very easy for a child’s imagination to go into the negative and run wild with negative ideas or beliefs about their world. Here are some examples of negative thoughts that are very common: This is too hard – I’m going to fail – I’m going to get in trouble and be punished – Nobody listens to me – Nobody loves me – Everyone will laugh at me – It’s not safe

Because these thoughts may be in there, we want to approach the situation in a methodical way and speak a language that makes sense to their EGO so they have an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t look at this as if your child is getting away with something bad and you have to cave to their behavior. In the martial arts, I change the words and stories I share with students all the time, based on the audience or the message that is needed. It’s call being fluid and appropriate.

Take time to think beforehand what you want to help them improve upon. Don’t take on more than one or two challenges at a time. Make sure that kids are part of the goal setting process and set clear expectations for the goals, timeline, and reward. Remember to change up the goals and rewards over time, just like at home with chores.

If you’re helping younger kids with karate the goal might be things like:
1. To stay on the mat for the whole class and not run to mom/dad until after class is done.
2. Keep trying even if the drill or karate move is hard.
3. Have a positive attitude when I win or lose a game.
4. Have patience and good focus while I’m waiting for my turn.
5. Use good manners and greet other students and parents in the studio.
6. Practice at home 5 minutes twice a week.

It can be something as simple as an ice cream, a small toy, new art supplies, trip to the dollar store, choose a movie, pick a special dinner, go to their favorite park, etc. If the goal is a bigger challenge and takes more time, the prize can be bigger.

Be sure to have variety and change rewards regularly and of course change the goals when they’re ready.

  • Be a positive energy – celebrate the achievements small and large. Kids love making you proud because it gives them feedback if they’re moving in the right direction. A high five, picture, or thumbs up can go a long way.

  • Keep your eye on the bigger picture and not the one moment. It’s about planting seeds and creating experiences and reference points for success.

  • Don’t react emotionally when tantrums or setbacks happen. Kids learn from our reactions so practice in your mind how you’ll respond and keep cheering them on.

  • Follow through – Don’t cave in and give a reward if the goal isn’t met. It’s not that we need to be extremely strict but kids greatly benefit from seeing you follow through on the goals and expectations.

  • Follow through – Make sure you give the reward when you said you would. Take pictures and record the moments for yourself and for your child to remember because it’s easy to forget special moments in life.

A child super hero. Bully solutions.


A new perspective for kids and parents

It's not a new issue and it will never go away. Why? Because we're human with emotions and brain chemistry and anyone can be a bully or be bullied. No person is just a bully. It depends on the moment and what's happening at the time. I've seen some of the kindest people be the bully and I've seen some of the biggest jerks be very nice. It's not all or nothing.

It makes sense to teach kids how to stand up for themselves and others in bullying situations. However, instead of teaching kids that it's their job or others' job to stop or FIX bullying in the world (which can never truly happen because we can't control others) why not teach them how to be strong enough to think through it and learn how to work beyond it so that you're not giving away your power and living in fear. It's also wise to learn how to take responsibility for yourself and your thoughts so that you recognize when you're tempted to be the bully at times. Of course when someone is physical or assaulting you, you need to take immediate action. But the idea that we're all so sensitive and we can't handle mean words is often times perpetuating a victim mindset that says other people's opinions are something to fear and have power over us.

One of the cool ways to teach our kids how to handle this type of stuff is teaching them that BEING OFFENDED IS A CHOICE. Then follow that up with teaching them to think & ask questions - What are some other options or ways of looking at this? What are you believing this means? Is what I am feeling true or accurate? Does this have anything to do with me? Does someone else's bad behavior mean that I'm a bad person? Am I misunderstanding this? Am I being overly sensitive?

There is such a cool opportunity to work on ourselves and to guide our kids when we practice this process. But it takes PRACTICE and you can't expect the world to teach your kids this because it's not the thinking of the masses.

Keep riding the waves and keep practicing!

A child overwhelmed by ADHD and procrastination.


In our home and karate studio, we have been working on the issue of Procrastination. It's easy to do, we all do it at times, but the consequences are important to be aware of. When we procrastinate we aren't just making things harder for ourselves. Procrastination really affects more than just ourselves because it puts others out by causing more crap for everyone else to deal with. If I choose to put off doing dishes I'll have a bigger mess to deal with later and it also makes it harder for the rest of the family when it's time for dinner. If you get the milk out of the fridge and get lazy and leave it out, now the milk goes bad and puts everyone else in a bad spot. When a parent doesn't help their kids' work through challenges, they're putting that responsibility on the rest of the world and expecting others to deal with the messes that follow. This applies to so many areas of life.

Procrastination isn't just about the messes we create for ourselves but also about the messes you might be asking others to deal with by not taking action. The solution to procrastination is simple: SELF DISCIPLINE. It's easy to put things off or have the intention to do it later or to blame others. But the easy path of being lazy causes horrible problems down the road. Doing the hard thing of using self discipline now actually makes life easier and takes less energy over all.

It takes a village

It takes a village to raise a child. When possible or appropriate step in and BE the village for others and of course your own kids. It's easy to look at situations where help is needed and justify not helping because you feel that it may take too much time or it's not my responsibility or I'm tired or I'm not letting anyone take advantage of me because of their bad decisions. But the problem is the kids suffer and that is sad.

What is so cool to see is when people behave in a way that says helping others (especially kids who are by definition younger and need guidance) is a priority above my own pride or EGO. That a child in pain, or fear, or need of help, is more important than my desire for me time, social life, romance, money, quiet time, etc.

When parents and adults see the value in guiding and supporting kids rather than trying to control them or run from them, it opens up a whole new world of learning and opportunity for kids AND adults. We learn so much about ourselves as we work with our kids and it benefits everyone!

"The meek shall inherit the earth" which I believe means that when you are actively practicing meekness and compassion then you will have the peace that this world can offer.

A family picture. It takes a village to raise a child.
Yin Yang - Process to make life easier.


A process to make life easier!

Something Kortnie and I practice in our home and for the Life Skills is the YIN and YANG process.

YIN (dark) = thinking, flexible, fluid, questions, solutions, options 
YANG (light) = doing, practice, application, trying, experimenting

They both work together because each one feeds the other. As you go into your mind and think (darkness), and ask questions, you look for ideas or options and that changes the things you do. While you go out and practice DOING things (light), you have experiences which gives new information and opportunities to THINK and ask questions to figure out what works and what doesn't.


We see the DARK as useful, because it's in the dark where we get the chance to evaluate things, be flexible, ask questions, learn about our fears, understand lies, create solutions and ideas, etc.


We see the LIGHT as useful because it's in the light where we get to practice and test out new ideas, solutions, consequences and see what works. And just because something doesn't work in one situation doesn't mean it's a failure because it might be perfect for something else in our life.

The roots of a tree reach into the soil (darkness) and gather the minerals and nutrients. Then the branches reach towards the sun (light) which utilizes nutrients from the soil (darkness) to grow and evolve into something new and amazing. The darkness and the light are perfectly feeding each other and working together.


Another piece of the YIN and YANG is that when you turn the yin/yang symbol sideways, you'll notice that it has a wave going up and down. That's because when you go through life, it always has ups and downs in it. These are the waves of life and they are 100% expected. When you dip down into a "dark" place, it gives you a chance to think about things and ask questions and figure things out. It's not a bad thing. Then we go back up and try something new or practice whatever to see what we can do. When you go up the wave it's an opportunity to practice. We don't need to freak out when we dip again in life because it's expected. It's part of the process. We also don't believe that just because we're having a great time in life that that's permanent either because we know that we eventually have to dip back down again to keep learning and growing. Neither is bad or good because it's part of the wave process. We all get to ride the waves!


There are so many cool pieces of information that can be learned from the Yin and Yang. It's just plain awesome :)

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