I also agree about the dangers of using the colored belt system. I enjoyed it during my TKD years as a teenager; my youngest brother and I were stupidly competitive about the belts. But when he quit (from boredom, I think?), it diminished the thrill of getting another belt for me. Not only that, the master instructor kept adding belts. It was nine ranks to 1st degree blackbelt when I first joined, and when I left, the number of ranks to black grew to *fifteen*. Two of those ranks were added when I was two ranks from black - and those ranks (called "Deputy Blackbelt...huh?!) happened to be above my current rank. And on top of the added belts, he cut down the classes from 1.5 hours to one hour. I was NOT happy with both of those developments and left (I was a "Deputy Blackbelt" at the time).
Belts will only motivate a child or teenager for a short amount of time. There needs to be some kind of substance in the training too. I quit that dojang because even at a young age, I saw the lack of substance behind the many colored belt ranks. Not to mention a LOT of mediocre kiddie blackbelts.
Makes me appreciate the white belt/black belt system even more.
This inspired some thoughts in me:
Teach real aikido to kids and they will love aikido if it is for them.
Also, yesterday, one of my younger students was taking his 10th kyu and his mom pulled me aside and said ".....is thinking of quitting because aikido is' boring'." And I told her, "I don't test people who are about to quit."
When confronted with a strong boundry, aikido got pretty interesting pretty quick. Kids like to test their enviroments, so it needs be based on integrity. I was willing to lose a student to maintain principle. That, it turns out, was interesting to this child. It established the 'worth' of our practice. It wasn't the enticement of just the 10th kyu opportunity but it was adhering to the backbone of our principles. He glowed during, and after his exam.
I've trained and ranked, probably, 1000's of young people over the last 15-20 years. If you keep it real, they'll get real with you.