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Who is your child hanging around with?

Power of the Tribe

See if this sounds familiar? You see a group of kids in a classroom, soccer field, in karate or just playing together. Some kids “get it” right away and thrive. Others, do pretty well . . . sometimes. Yet, others do just enough to get by (or less). Then there are a few who resist, defy or just plain show no interest.

I know it can be frustrating for many of the parents whose children are not in the “thriving right away” group. While some kids start there, most do not. Most have to develop the skills, habits and mindset of happy, high achieving and highly successful children.

Many parents have found that pushing their children does not seem to work. They can “get on them” to do better until they are blue in the face. Pushing often seems to make it even worse. So, what is a parent to do?

Well, I have some good news for you. There still might be hope for you by using the “Power of the Tribe”.

Humans are social animals. There is a good reason why. We are not the strongest nor fastest animals on earth so we used the one advantage we did have – our brains. We realized if we worked with other humans we could survive and thrive. In numbers, we did not have to be the strongest or fastest.

Much like our caveman ancestors, we still feel the need to live in “tribes” to survive. This is why we like to do things with others. Why we need to be accepted by and belong to a group. This instinct and drive to be a part of a tribe is not just necessary, but is hard-wired into our brains.

So here is how you can put this to use - learn to use this tribe instinct with your child.

As I said before, it is hard to push a child. Remember the saying “You cannot push a noodle!” Instead just remember this concept- “You rise to the expectation level of your peer group.”

As I wrote about in a previous blog, prior to about 7th grade the primary motivation of most children is “Pleasing their parents”. You can maximize this by just doing one thing: Express in your emotions and actions how much what your child does pleases you. Learn to do this with the ENERGY you put out over their effort, work or achievements. In short, just getting super excited is much better than saying you are happy in just words. (On the other side, nothing crushes a child’s spirit more than when you are disappointed, unhappy or disinterested.)

After 7th grade a child’s primary motivation starts to shift to “Pleasing their peers.” (Again, remember we still have the caveman’s instinct to survive in a tribe) Here again is what to remember to apply this tribe “leverage” with your child – You will rise to the expectation level of your peer group.

Think of a high-level sports team, high performing work team or military unit. Everyone on that team or unit is pulled up by their teammates. To stay in the group, they are compelled to keep up!

So, to conclude here is how to apply these two principles:

  • Before about 7th grade just do this: Use a child’s motivation to please you but genuinely getting excited about what they are doing. Actually become even more excited about karate than your child. Instead of focusing on changing their attitude, focus on yours. This is much more powerful.

  • After 7th grade just do this: Try your hardest to control who your kids associate with. You want them around a kind, strong, and high achieving group of kids with good habits.

Can you tell your kids who to hang around with? Sure you can. And you should.

One of the strengths and objectives of this dojo is to form a special tribe to surround our children with the best like-minded parents, teachers, adult role models, but maybe ever more importantly; kind, strong and high achieving peers!

So, what kind of kids is your child hanging around with?

Yours for stronger kids,


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