Everyone likes to be asked to do something, not always told to do so. The same goes for children.

At our schools, we tell our martial arts instructors that sometimes, in order to get the kids to practice on their own or to always use their best technique, they should try asking instead of commanding.

For example, we can say, “Johnny, can you do your kicks,” or we can scream, “JOHNNY! DO YOUR KICKS!” Both get the same result, but the first one is more pleasing to deal with.

Besides, if we constantly shout out orders, students begin to tune us out. It is always better to get kids to comply with a question we pose to them (“Do you want to be a belt someday? Let’s practice those kicks!”)

That’s not to say we don’t sometimes demand action. But we do mix it up, because constantly demanding is overbearing. We want students to realize that we want them to do their best – and that sometimes, we have to ask.

When we give them our best, they respond by giving us their best in return.