Saturday, June 12, 2010

Helping Our Children Find Their Way!

My lovely wife was driving in town yesterday where she came across a blind man in the middle of the street. He was tapping his cane on the road, frantically searching for the sidewalk. He wasn't in a cross walk but literally out in the road with a bus coming from the opposite direction of my wife and a bus behind my wife. Needless to say they were sandwiched between some traffic. My wife immediately put on her hazard lights got out of the car and proceeded to guide this blind man to the safety of the sidewalk. He was so appreciative of her help and he continued on his way. With traffic still waiting my wife got into her car and continued on with her day.

She told me this story today and we both immediately thought how that situation is a metaphor for many life situations. Let me explain using the example of teachers and coaches.

We can all lose our way in life and need some help and guidance from a helping hand. Someone who just comes into our lives and is willing to hold back buses and traffic until they help you to get where you need to go.

Children can lose their way just as easily as adults especially if they have had negative experiences in the past with teachers/coaches or adults in authority. Many times kids get pressured into participating in sport by their parents or teachers because of several different reasons. They might lack confidence, they could be overweight, it is the sport that their parents did when they were kids. But what is it that our kids want. Do we take the time to ask them what they want to do? To instill a lifetime love of fitness it is critical that we give our kids the right guidance into activities that are fun and physically and mentally engaging.

Forcing a child to do a sport or activity that they don't want to do could have long term negative effects. If they get a bad taste in their mouth from an experience they had with a bad coach or teacher then they could be put off from participating in physical activity in the future.

Let us take for example two classification of kids that participate in activities which I learned from Brian Grasso founder of the IYCA: Athletes/children that have Low Motivation/High Skill and those that have Low/Motivation Low Skill. Both of these classifications of athletes are more than likely forced by parents to participate in an activity that they might or might not want to participate it.

The Low Motivation/High Skill child has great skills and technical ability and things come easy to them and might not feel like they have been challenged. Our goal with this type of kid is to challenge them through inspiration. Inspire them to do great things and make sure they feel like they are being challenge in each activity.

The Low Motivation/Low Skill child needs a bit of a different approach. These children are the quiet ones that don't speak much and kind of hide in the corner. They might not have much ability and thus lack confidence in themselves. If we try to get these kids going by raising our voice, regardless if it is positive or negative, they tend to make themselves as small as possible. If we use a direct approach with these kids and make them feel comfortable by speaking directly to them and not singling them out of the group, they will feel more at ease. You need to take the personal approach with these kids.

Eventually we want all children to have High Motivation/High Skill so they can enjoy physical activity and a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

We can, metaphorically speaking, guide our children to the sidewalks of physical and emotional development and not be like those teachers/coaches in the past that couldn't help them, i.e. the cars that would beep at the blind man to get out of the road or to signal him to look out but not deliver any meaningful help!

This experience has re-emphasised to me the importance of being a positive guiding factor in the life of others, especially our children!

And in the end we are happy to have helped these athletes/children succeed in their long term development but sad to see them leave us when they enter the next stage of their life. Such was the feeling my wife had when she left the blind man, "happy to have helped him but sad to see him go, potentially facing the next street crossing alone."

Go Stop Some Traffic and Guide!

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