Learning Right From Wrong

Before bed, do you brush your teeth or just go to the sink and turn on the water while pretending to brush them? When eating dinner, do you eat your vegetables or feed them to the dog when no one is looking? How do you know what the right behaviors are?
shutterstock_216996220In Martial Arts we talk a lot about integrity. Being honest and fair are learned behaviors. As parents, it’s our responsibility to instill those positive ideals in our children.
5 Steps to Teaching Integrity
  • Can your kids describe what integrity means? Simply put, it is being honest and doing the right thing all the time, even when no one is around to see it.
  • Establish your expectations, and stick to them. Do your children know what is expected of them at different times? Kids appreciate visual cues, so maybe having a chore chart or a bedtime routine chart will help set those expectations.
  • Dishonesty has consequences, and it’s important to begin teaching children that at a young age. There is more to consequences than sitting in time out or losing privileges. Show your children that dishonesty leads to mistrust from those around them.
  • Teach kids to say what they mean, and mean what they say, especially when angry. This one can be difficult, even for adults. When faced with a highly emotional situation, like an argument, teach kids to take a time out from the situation so they do not say something they will later regret.
  • Being honest has benefits and rewards, you may have to point them out to kids. Sometimes those rewards are tangible, such as getting a red stripe on their Taekwondo belt for displaying good behaviors. Other times the benefits are intangible, such as the positive feelings we get when we make good choices.


Farrells-MA_KickerTKD Tip: Do you have multiple children? If so, make sure that each child is held accountable to the same rules. Their responsibilities may be different based on age, but the consequences and way in which you reward and discipline should be the same.

Parent/Child Activity: Role playing is a great way to help kids visualize and experience different scenarios. Help teach them about integrity by creating different situations, both good and bad, and asking them to help identify if they are “good” or “bad” behaviors and what they would do in those situations.

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Teaching Responsibility

Boy pulling garbage can

As a parent, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “But it wasn’t my fault,” or some version of this many times over from your child. Children are exceptional at passing blame to others (and creative, too!) and pleading the fifth when asked what really happened.

As cute or imaginative as some of their excuses may be, it’s important to teach them how to take responsibility for their actions and words. The likelihood of the dog always getting the cookies off the counter seems pretty slim!

So how do you teach young children about responsibility? Check out some of these tips:

  1. Keep Cool. One of the most important lessons you can teach your child about responsibility is honesty. Unfortunately, we sometimes too often jump to rash behavior and overreact when our children do something “wrong”. Make it easy for your child to be honest by keeping a level head when they tell you what really happened. This will make it easier for them in the future to open up to you. This isn’t to say they still shouldn’t receive some sort of consequence for their actions, but it should be discussed with them in a calm manner so they understand the situation.
  2. Praise Positive Behavior. Whether they told you the truth or took responsibility for an action without you having to ask, it’s extremely important that you praise their positive behavior.
  3. Don’t Confuse. It’s easy as parents to let certain things slide, especially if it’s been a long, hard day at work and you’re not willing to battle the children, but sticking to the rules is essential for children. Children who see that they can bend parents’ rules are more willing to push them and it shows you are not serious, which they will smell a mile away.
  4. Visualize. Children are visual learners (although it’s also best to verbally remind them as well), so to teach them responsibility, use a chart or some sort of system that they can visually follow to see how there are doing. Label or describe these as “responsibilities” not “chores” as children can take better ownership of “their responsibilities” versus “mom and dad’s chores”.


TKD Tip: Make sure responsibilities and expectations are age-appropriate. Think about attention spans of each of your children and make sure you’re giving them responsibilities they can do without much frustration.

Parent/Child Activity: Create a competition. Kids love a little competition, so set up a responsibility competition for everyone in the household. Each person starts the week off with seven stars. Anytime someone makes an excuse or doesn’t take responsibility for their actions/words, they lose a star for that day. The person with the most stars at the end of the week gets to pick a fun family activity or special treat.




Source: http://www.parents.com/kids/responsibility/values/its-not-my-fault/



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Posted in Integrity, Self-Control

Farrell’s Martial Arts Takes on Taekwondo Nationals in Richmond

Group Photo

Siddarth and Hunter waiting their turnOur Farrell’s Martial Arts Taekwondo competition team attended and competed at the USA Taekwondo National Championships from July 4 – 10 in Richmond, Virginia. In total we had nine students attend this event from both our Beaverdale and Waukee locations.

Competitors from across the United States attend this tournament and compete in Poomsae, Board Breaking, and Sparring. In addition, Master Ryan Bishop and Mr. Richard Puhl represented Farrell’s Martial Arts as Referees at the tournament. Master Bishop was selected from 180 referees to receive the National Referee of the Year award, which is a great honor and achievement!

Daniel Fath, Director of Farrell’s Martial Arts, says “Our Farrell’s students all did a great job representing not only our school, but the state of Iowa as well.”

Ready to SparIt takes a lot of time and commitment for our students to prepare for the level of competition expected in a National tournament like this. Extra practices, extra dedication and focus, as well as traveling to local and regional competitions.

Farrell’s students Kennedy and Natali Pahl made it to the second round in their respective poomsae groups. Siddharth Sriidhar, his first Nationals competition, earned a third place medal in sparring.

Thank you to the following students that attended and competed this year at Nationals.

From our Beaverdale School: Owen and Ethan Miller, Hunter Chanthaphon, Kennedy and Natali Pahl, and Rey Zaragoza

From our Waukee School: Siddharth Sridhar, Nora Croswaite, and Master Ryan Bishop.

These athletes truly make us proud and we hope to continue to grow our competition team for both local tournaments and Nationals next year!

To view more photos from Nationals, click here!

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Posted in Indomitable Spirit, News & Events

5 Indoor Activities to Burn Energy!

Burn Energy

Summer and winter can provide some harsh weather conditions that unfortunately mean keeping the kids inside to avoid heat stroke or frostbite.

What Mother Nature doesn’t provide are ways to keep our kids entertained while inside, so it’s up to us parents to provide some fun ways to help kids burn off their exorbitant amount of extra energy.

So the next time it’s too hot for the kids to play outside, consider trying a few of these fun activities to keep them engaged and active!

  1. Roll the dice! Using cardboard or paper, create an activity dice with a specific exercise or activity listed on each side, such as 10 jumping jacks or 15 sit-ups.
  2. Jump pit. What kid doesn’t love to jump! Have them collect pillows, blankets and stuffed animals (anything soft to land on) and create a pit to jump into from the couch or bed.
  3. Dance party. Nothing burns energy quite like a dance party. Have your children pick some of their favorite songs and get ready to party! To make it even more fun, add the “freeze” element where they have to stop in place when the music stops. They’ll be laughing and burning energy in no time.
  4. Snowball fight. Take old newspaper or plain white printer paper and have them crumple it into “snowballs” and let the fun begin. Add in some fun obstacles to hide behind.
  5. Don’t touch the ground. Blow up some balloons and hand them over to the kids and tell them the person that keeps the balloon up the longest wins. To keep them going, make it best out of five games! To add even more fun, tell them you’ll add in obstacles and they can try to knock the other’s balloon away, too.

Check out Pinterest for more great indoor activities to burn off excess energy and remember to think outside of the box.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: If kids are stuck inside because of weather, it’s a great opportunity to also have them all do quiet time or work on other skills, like reading or their forms!


Parent/Child Activity: Using large popsicle sticks and a jar or cup, sit down with your child and come up with different indoor activities. Write these on the popsicle sticks and keep them in the jar. On rainy days or indoor days you’ll already have activities to select from instead of trying to think about what to do.

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Posted in Health & Wellness, Self-Control

An Attitude For Success

Attitude for successWe all want our children to be successful. When we say “successful” we’re not talking about the local talent show successful, but rather the long-term, happy-relationships, feel-good, confident-person, standing tall kind of successful.

Society tends to identify successful individuals as being smart, or driven, or lucky.

While many successful people do have some or all of these attributes, new research from Stanford University has shown that a person’s attitude is a better predictor of success than smarts.

Psychologist Carol Dweck, who has been conducting this research, found that a person’s attitude falls into one of two main mindsets – a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

As she states, “With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.”1

As we teach our young children how to handle life, it’s important to teach them these mindsets and how to develop a growth mindset verse a fixed one.

Teach your mini a growth mindset by doing the following:

Encourage Passion: Passion will overcome natural talent any day because passion is what will drive your children to become better, and to try and try again until they’ve succeeded.

Bounce Back: Success is ultimately failing many times over. Those who are successful don’t stop with their failures, but learn to overcome them and move forward instead of feeling helpless and doing nothing – they bounce back.

Be Flexible: Those with growth mindsets understand that life brings about unexpected events and are able to embrace their new situation and stay flexible to overcome it rather than be paralyzed by it.

We’ve said before that attitude’s can be changed, but that is a difficult undertaking and one that can come with a lot of resistance. Teaching these skills early on helps children develop healthy habits now so you can avoid an attitude adjustment later.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: Watch your child and their daily interactions to see if you can identify whether they have a growth or fixed mindset. If they have a fixed mindset, see if you can start leading by example, demonstrating growth mindset behaviors that they can pick up on.

Parent/Child Activity: Try Warren Buffet’s 5/25 technique! Help your child find their true passion. Ask them to write down 25 things they care about the most. If they are younger, ask for 10 or 15. Have them cross off all but the top five. Those are the things they are the most passionate about!





  1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/01/19/why-attitude-is-more-important-than-iq/#76f660d02f57



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Posted in Health & Wellness, Perseverance

Health Benefits of a Positive Attitude

Developing a Healthy Attitude

As a parent, you’re always concerned about the health of your child. Most times we’re concerned as we sit on the edge of our seats as they scale the tallest ladder at the playground – concerned about their physical health and well-being.

What we don’t always consider is their mental health as well.

Self-respect, courtesy, confidence, a positive attitude; these are all psychological states of mind that need to be taught and that have significant effects on our children’s mental state as they grow into adults.

Studies have been conducted to learn the effects and connections of our mental state on our physical health, and it’s pretty clear that having a positive attitude has some good health benefits.

A study in Denmark looked at 607 adult patients in a hospital and found that patients whose moods were overall more positive were 58 percent more likely to live at least another five years. These people exercised more, too.1

Another study has found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine . . . People who were optimistic about a specific and important part of their lives exhibited a stronger immune response.2

It’s also been theorized that those who have a positive attitude live healthier lives, exercising more, eating healthier and reducing risk for health conditions like heart disease, depression and other cardiovascular diseases.

Now is the time to help children establish a healthy outlook on life and a positive attitude. Life will happen. Unexpected, stressful situations will occur, but having the foundation of a positive attitude can immensely help children cope with these unexpected events, reducing stress-related health concerns.

It’s easier to start with a positive foundation than to change a negative one.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: Finding the humor in a situation can help lessen stress and turn a bad or negative attitude around pretty quickly. Find some fun (and appropriate) jokes for your child to memorize to recite in stressful situations.

Parent/Child Activity: Research techniques online with your child on ways they can practice a positive attitude and optimism. Have them pick the ones they feel most comfortable practicing and have them apply to situations to start building a positive attitude.







  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/optimism-and-health_n_4031688.html


  1. https://www.verywell.com/benefits-of-positive-thinking-2794767


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All About Attitude

shutterstock_387530503A positive or negative attitude is a choice. Our attitudes define how we handle difficult situations, challenges and obstacles in life.

Similar to other habits, a positive attitude needs to be taught and displayed for children to learn. Having a positive attitude will not only help them become happier and more productive individuals, but research has shown it can also help their physical health by reducing and handling stress better.

Try these tips for teaching your kids how to have a positive attitude:

Focus on Accomplishments. In general, we tend to focus on the negatives in our life. For children, this may be a bad grade or difficulty learning a new skill. Teach your children to focus on the accomplishments, regardless of how big or small they may be. Learning to tie shoes, putting away dishes by themselves, doing their own laundry, even dressing themselves – these are accomplishments that build confidence. They are learning to focus on the positive.

Ask your children to identify a daily accomplishment and have them tell you each night before bed.

Be Thankful. Research has shown that you cannot feel stressed and blessed at the same time. So you can see why it’s important to teach your children to be thankful. Stress is a driver for a negative attitude as well as health issues. Have your children write down (if they are old enough) or tell you each day a few items they are thankful or grateful for. Make this a daily ritual so it becomes embedded in their personality and outlook on life.

Control. Children need to learn and understand what they can and cannot control to avoid unnecessary stress. For instance, they cannot control events in their life, but they can control their reactions and the outcome. Teach them to react positively to events and teach them to take control of the outcome they want.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: It’s natural to be negative– it’s a part of our human DNA. Tell you children it’s ok to have negative thoughts, but encourage them to try to turn a negative thought into a positive one.


Source: http://www.jongordon.com/newsletter-030711-positive-kids.html

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Posted in Courtesy, Self-Control

3 Activities to Teach Respect

shutterstock_288364628As a parent, you are probably well aware of the differences between telling your child something versus showing them. Children learn best by doing. This doesn’t mean oral communication is out the door, but providing visual or hands-on activities for your children helps reinforce concepts and creates a deeper understanding.

The concept of respect can be difficult for children to grasp, so we’ve compiled a few fun activities you can participate in with your child to help teach them how to be respectful.

Activity #1: Learning Boundaries

Kids, especially younger kids, love to test physical boundaries. This activity will teach children how to be respectful of another person’s space or belongings.

You’ll need: Chalk or hula-hoop (or something to create a “boundary”).

Scenario #1: Please stop tickling

Using chalk, draw a circle. Step into the circle. Now, have your child step in and start tickling you. Politely ask your child to “stop tickling, please.” Then they must leave the circle showing respect for your request.

Scenario #2: Please give that back

If you have more than one child, this is a great activity for all of them to try.

Child two is in the circle. Child one will be playing with child two’s toy outside of the circle. Have child two ask for their toy back. Child one must enter the circle and give back the toy and then step back outside of the circle, again, showing respect for their wishes.

Activity #2: Meal Time Manners

Ask your child to whom they would most list to share a meal. This can be anyone – famous athlete, favorite musician, etc., someone important to them. Tell them they are coming over for dinner and that they will need to practice their meal time manners.

Then, review and demonstrate a list of manners (appropriate for their age) so they can start practicing them. Below is a short list of suggestions, but you get it!

  1. Say “please” and “thank you”.
  2. Sit still and sit straight (no slouching).
  3. Wait until everyone is seated before you start eating.
  4. Place your napkin in your lap before eating.
  5. Ask politely for people to pass food instead of reaching.
  6. Chew with your mouth closed.

Activity #3: Visual Board

Get out the arts and crafts materials (except maybe the glitter) and grab some poster board and magazines. Have your child look up the definition of respect and write it at the top of the poster board.

Next, have them find five pictures of scenarios of people being respectful. This could be someone helping another person, someone recycling, someone sharing, etc. Ask your child to put these on the board and explain how they are showing respect in each of the photos.

There are tons of great hands-on activities for teaching your child respect. Regardless of which you choose, the most important lesson is that you lead by example.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: Teach your child that there are many types of respect, including self-respect. Tell them examples of showing respect to others and showing respect to themselves so they understand the differences.

Sources: http://www.kidsofintegrity.com/lessons/respect/hands-options/boundary-game
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Showing respectAretha Franklin knows what it’s all about! As parents, all we want is a little respect.

But wanting respect and getting it are usually on opposite ends of the spectrum. Like all good habits and values, respect is a learned trait. The longer you wait to teach and show respect to your child, the harder it will be to get it from them.

Here’s a few tips you can start working on to teach your child to learn respect:

  1. Stand Firm. It’s sometimes a little too easy to threaten, but not follow through with consequences to try to change our child’s behavior. If you give in during a tantrum or let them treat you disrespectfully, they’ll learn this is okay (and it’s not). Stand firm and follow-through on your commands.
  2. Choose Words Carefully. We know kids are little sponges. How you speak to them is how they’ll speak to you and others. Teach them the proper (respectful) way to talk by leading by example. They don’t understand what “disrespectful” means, so if they are misbehaving, don’t only tell them, “That’s disrespectful.” Tell them why, such as, “Those are not the words we use to talk to people. We treat others with respect. Please think about what words you used and why we don’t use those.”
  3. Respect Your Spouse. Your relationship with your spouse or significant other sets the family tone. Showing love and respect for each other sends a clear signal to children of the right way to behave and how to show respect.
  4. Set Expectations. Children will rise to the occasion if expectations are in place. Set expectations for situations so they know how they are to behave. Make sure these are clearly stated beforehand.
  5. Acknowledge Respect. Especially for younger children who are still learning what respect is (and good reinforcement for older children), make sure you acknowledge when they are being respectful and disrespectful to others so they can understand the difference.

Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: Your child is not your friend. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but you are a parent first. Your job is to prepare them to function in the real world through teaching and coaching. You’re doing them a disservice by letting them get away with things and not setting boundaries. Your relationship will evolve as they get older, but it’s important to remember this now.

Parent/Child Activity: Role-play scenarios with your child in which you are showing respect or disrespect and ask them to identify which is which. Ask them to also tell you what is either respectful or disrespectful about those scenarios.


Source: http://www.imom.com/6-ways-get-kids-respect/


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Posted in Courtesy, Integrity

Teaching Kids How to Persevere

Farrell's Martial Arts Group Photo

In a world that can sometimes be too focused on instant gratification, it’s important to teach our children the importance of perseverance and it’s connection to success.

Our children, and us as well, are sensitive to words like “failure”. It can be easy for us to fail once and give up. We need to stop addressing failure like it’s always a bad thing. Failure helps us determine what didn’t work so we can improve upon it for next time. What is missing in most discussions of failure with our children is how they are going to overcome it. How they are going to persevere!

One way in which you can teach your children about perseverance is through goal setting. Setting goals is a great life-long habit that will teach perseverance and a good work ethic. To avoid frustration, have your child determine their overall goal – “I want to learn to play guitar,” and have them break it down into smaller goals, which could include weekly lessons, 30 min. practice time 3x a week, etc. This will help them keep focused without feeling overwhelmed.

IMG_4789Another way is to connect through communication. Many times we praise without stating all the hard work they’ve done to get that praise. When talking with your children, make sure you communicate the connection of their accomplishments to their hard work and practice. “Your batting practice sure paid off in your game today with that home run!” or “Your grades sure show how hard you’ve been studying, great job!”

Remind your children that successful people failed (many times!) before they succeeded, but they did succeed because they persevered through those failures and challenges. They didn’t give up!

Check out just a few examples of some now well-known individuals:

Walt Disney – his first animation company went bankrupt. He was fired by a news editor because he lacked imagination. Legend has it he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World.

J.K. RowlingTwelve publishers rejected the Harry Potter manuscript! A year later she was given the green light by Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, who agreed to publish the book but insisted she get a day job cause there was no money in children’s books.

Dr. Seuss27 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

Michael Jordan – Famous for being cut from his High School basketball team and then turning out to be the greatest basketball player in history, Michael Jordan is also well-known for this quote:

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Vincent Van Gogh – He only sold one painting in his lifetime to a friend. Despite that he kept painting and finished over 800 pieces. Now everyone wants to buy them and his most expensive painting is valued at $142.7 million.


Farrells-TKD-profile-logoTKD Tip: Children can oftentimes get frustrated easily while trying to learn new skills. You can’t blame them, but this can lead to them wanting to quit something before they’ve even been able to enjoy it. If you find your child becoming frustrated easily, sit them down and discuss ways to help the situation. Maybe they are trying to do too much at once or their goal needs to be broken down some more.

Parent/Child Activity: Ask your child to list or tell you five successful (or famous) people they admire. Research with them these five people to find out how they had to persevere to overcome failures. Write these out on poster board or in fun ways to hang around the house as motivational reminders that success means hard work and never giving up!




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Posted in Indomitable Spirit, Perseverance

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