Trying to help Jesse strengthen his social skills has been a tough one. As an only child with two very busy working parents, it’s hard to find a lot of time to set up play dates. Not to mention that most kids Jesse’s age get tired of Jesse’s demanding and different ways.Jesse likes to dictate what to play and exactly how to play it, which usually ends up being quite a long-winded process that most kids don’t stick around for. So, because of this, the communication difficulty and tendency to meltdown when misunderstood, Jesse usually ends up playing alone.
We decided that we needed to introduce an extracurricular activity or sport, because being a working mum with a busy household wasn’t enough for me! We discussed things like football and soccer but realised it would just be too overwhelming. The number of kids, the sensory overloaded environment, the many different rules to remember and limited one on one attention from a coach just wouldn’t work. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was our answer, also referred to as Ninja School by Jesse. Jesse likes to believe that this is how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles learnt their skills. He often points to the storm drains in the street saying that one day he will be able to go down and join them in their fight against Shredder.
BJJ is a great way for Jesse to socialise, exercise, learn discipline and respect and it helps him gain much-needed self-confidence. Just as important as these things, BJJ teaches him invaluable self-defence lessons that I know will come in handy for my little man. Jesse has already been involved in a number of bullying incidents, from as young as 4 years old. We all know how cruel children can be, especially when someone is a little different or stands out from the crowd.
Jesse started his training at Infinity Martial Arts nearly five months ago and we haven’t looked back. Our ninja school is located close to home in Ipswich and we go straight after school as many days a week as I can manage. From the moment Jesse walked in the doors and spotted the 2013 QLD titles trophy, he knew it was for him. He turned to his dad and said “I’m going to win that Dad”, which was music to Kerry’s ears as it was the first time Jesse had set himself a practical, reality based goal. BJJ black belt instructor Shannan Landy runs the school, is Jesse’s main instructor and I can’t compliment him enough. Shannan is an exceptional athlete and a brilliant teacher and role model when it comes to the kids. Shannan not only teaches the children Jui- Jitsu but many other important life skills. Shannan doesn’t take any rubbish, he knows when to use a heavier hand with Jesse, which we have found works well and gets results. The one on one interaction Jesse gets from his Ju-Jitsu instructor keeps him focused and determined to impress. I must admit that at home, I sometimes threaten to tell Instructor Shannan if Jesse has been misbehaving or not respecting my house, and it almost always works.
Jesse’s class is a small group and a mix of boys and girls aged four to seven which is perfect. From early on we discovered that Jesse connects better with children a bit younger or a bit older than him. The younger kids connect with him as he is more closely matched to their developmental level and the older kids tend to take him under their wing and look after him. The improved social skills, self discipline and passion Jesse continues to display thanks to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu makes me extremely proud.
If you have a child with autism, behavioural problems or even poor self-esteem, I would highly recommend giving this sport and Shannan’s training centre a go. It’s a safe and structured environment to build your child’s skills.