The other day I posted some thoughts on the learning state referred to as ‘flow‘ and made a connection to cycling and my own personal observations of my two oldest children taking to cycling. The reason I did this is because I have been impressed with their development and growth in confidence and ability as cyclists. My four year old daughter has now cycled over 12 kms in one go with no gears on her small pink bike and her little legs going like the clappers up and down hills. Her skill and ability has definitely been matched by the challenge and resilience required resulting in a rewarding outcome for all.
We have been trying tennis as a family and sometimes take the family rackets with us on a more casual bike ride or walk. Unfortunately though, we are a long way off any state of ‘flow’ with our tennis experience. Although everyone is very keen and excited at first it is not long until the tears appear and their patience is being lost. Why is this the case? Tennis is just a bit of fun, trying to hit a ball over a net, we are not expecting Wimbledon champions (yet). Obviously tennis is proving to be a lot more frustrating though and requires a different range of skill sets. Maybe my wife and I (we are know Agassi and Graf by the way!) are not the best tennis coaches either and the children can easily spot this. Where have my teaching skills gone and why am I also getting frustrated and losing my patience with my own children – there is only so many times you can say ‘watch the ball!‘
I find myself often reflecting on my parenthood qualities and why, as someone that has taught young people (both primary and secondary age) for more than 15 years, do I often fail as a teacher within my own home and family environment? It is not that my children expect a teacher, they want a father and of course I try the best I can and I am still learning everyday with every challenge that they throw my (our) way. Teaching is about going above and beyond for every student and that is something that I always strive to do and achieve, it is not easy and takes a big time commitment but why else would you go into the teaching profession if you weren’t prepared to do that?
Parenting is an even bigger (life) commitment and of course you want to go above and beyond for your own children but have to do this over a more prolonged period of time and make sure that you get the balance right. You can’t be a world class parent all of the time and you can’t always expect your children to ‘flow.’ A good friend said to me the other the day: you have to choose your battles with your own children – you can’t win them all, there are many phases that they are going to go through – let them explore and discover the highs and lows. Always support them and help them to gain in confidence, there are many different games to be played but not everyone will be a winner but there will always be many points to learn from. They will eventually discover which sets to go for and it is our job as parents (and teachers) to make sure they ultimately play a winning match and be successful in life.