We’ve finally reached that stage where all four of our kids attending after-school (or nursery) activities. Doodle started a karate class just before Christmas, with his sister already going to cheerleading and gymnastics and the twins at weekly football sessions.
I haven’t been to see MM at any of her classes – she insists it’s mum only and I’m not offended in the least…honest.
However, I do normally take the boys to their clubs and I really enjoy doing so. It’s great watching them get fit, learn new skills and interacting with their peers. That’s not so say though, that there aren’t problems along the way.
Taking up a martial art was Doodle’s idea. We had been looking for a while for some kind of hobby that he would not only enjoy, but perhaps help with his aggression and his discipline and behaviour at school. Overall, it’s been a success – he’s learned a few of the basic moves and at the start of each week the first question he asks is when can he go back.
Our two youngest kids are enjoying their football. They attend coaching for kids of their own age group and have a great time. The coaches are very imaginative and deliver enjoyable, well planned out drills and exercises each week.
Of course, the boys are very much of the stage of learning their new activities. It’s perfectly natural then that they will make mistakes or take time to learn new skills. Thankfully, their coaches are not only experts in their respective fields, but they are also experienced in working with young children – they therefore know how to motivate them and get the best out of them.
Sitting on the sidelines, I watch with great interest as my three boys are put through their paces. While I’m proud of all them (and my daughter when she attends her classes) and I try to encourage them as much as possible, there are times when I become a bit frustrated. This is usually as a result of one of the boys not listening or paying attention to their coach or instructor. At such times, I will try to catch their eye with a wave or, if they are close enough, I will call out their name in the hope that they will come out of their daydream. Sometimes it works, but on other occasions, you just have to let them get on with it.
Not all parents have the same attitude. At the football class in particular, one or two parents – ok, fathers – are just a bit over the top. I’ve seen a couple cheer loudly when their little ones do something well, yet seen the same people berate their kids when things don’t go to plan. Such extreme reactions don’t sit comfortably with me at all.
I do offer bits of advice post-training, though with the karate I can only really repeat what the instructor has said as I have no experience of martial arts. I also encourage all of my kids to practice their skills, as I think understanding the importance of regular exercise, hard work and trying your best are vital not only for extra-curricular activities, but for everyday life. However, unless an individual is qualified to do both, then the roles of parent and coach should remain separate.
I can, up to a point, understand why parents become so wrapped up in their children’s sporting ‘careers’. Every parent wants their kids to do well, particularly when up against their peers. However, putting too much emphasis on victory and success at an early age, could lead to youngsters being put off and missing out on the most important element of all – enjoyment.