We all remember being hard-headed as a kid. Having to learn some of our major lessons through experience and not through the wisdom of others. It’s one of the things that, as an adult, I’m now learning how to sit back and let it happen.
Working with kids can be both amazing and frustrating. Sometimes, all rolled into one moment. Working with them in a challenging sport just maximizes both ends of the spectrum. These kids put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect in this sport (competitive gymnastics) that adding pressure as a coach runs a fine line. Especially if there’s a parent on the back end complicating it.
I got lucky as a kid. Gymnastics was my sport, just as Hockey was my brother’s. Sure, my dad was a coach in his own right, but neither of us felt pressured by him so much as we learned patience from him. Neither of my parents put pressure on my performances. In fact, whenever I questioned whether or not I wanted to continue, they led me through the breaks, the restarts and let me process the frustrations. In the end, I pushed through to my first year of college and ultimately made the decision that it was time to retire and move on to my next sport.
But what I find interesting, is to see the development of where a child’s psychology comes in, as I get to see the generational intersection at competitions. There’s an extent to which I do become sad, because I’m one of those people who firmly believes in self-reflection and not passing on my bad habits to those who come after me. And in some of these cases I see that the internal work wasn’t done (or no one ever called them on the habit) and the issue just gets handed down like great grandma’s formal china.
When I see these habits, I do what I can to provide an alternative view point, counteract where I can, and hopefully stop that habit in its tracks by teaching a method of self-reflection and encouraging that. But I also have to let go when the idea doesn’t root and hope that the continuation eventually hits a point where the fact can’t be denied – whether it becomes from a positive or negative experience.
Ultimately, our goal as adults in a child’s life is two-fold: provide guidance where and when we can and be an example to strive beyond. Instead of raising them in our image, we should be teaching them how to be better than ourselves.