Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sports Spirit - honing skills

Recently, I come across my ex-students who have been young children when they came to the Library, tip-toeing with hopes of making their own identity someday. Today, I see them pursuing their goals that gives me immense pleasure to recognize their abilities and capabilities that turn them to be successful in their chosen field.

Sometimes, as teachers, we underestimate our children and are quite skeptical as to their future looking to their childhood academic progress. How wrong we could be! We all know, some kids are sharper and some weaker in certain areas, some children are fast learners and some slow - all where academic skills are concerned. However, when creativity gives a way, some children turn to be the best in the exclusive skills they possess and it is sure to admit 'Practice makes a man perfect' - be it arts of sports or even academic area like writing a poetry or maybe literature savvy. This gives a special mention of a child who was no good in academic, needed a push for good handwriting and needed special attention for reading and grammar skills. Speech skills was almost missing as he was more used to his mother tongue. As years rolled by, Teacher-Parental role played their part and I was much happy to see tremendous change in him at the Library. More happier now, because he's the one who makes me proud as he honed his Sports Skills. His love for Sports makes me feel on 'Cloud Nine' as he has turned to be the Best Skater and won laurels skating his way to glory. While talking to him, he revealed his daily routine which gave me an idea of his determination towards the sport. Fitness is a way of life as he begins his day early in the morning, cycling and gym exercise followed by routine skating practices of minimum 2 to 3 hours. Sometimes, he wins and even loses to competitors but its a sports spirit and game all the way he loves to play.

Well, I would like to share a counselling question once a parent asked me by email : "My 7 year old just participated his school's field day and didn't fare too well - but he sure tried. Hence, he went and kicked the school building and threw away his participating ribbons and moped around for the rest of the day. How do I sympathetically but firmly approach this?"

The answer is as below and I am sure, might help many parents and teachers to help children face defeat in a positive manner:

Competitions do not mean winning or standing first or in order. It gives opportunity to experience and find way out from losing to winning edge. Let the kid learn from experience so as not to let this frustration flick back again. ‘Everyone likes to win but most of, its good you are enjoying and having fun’ should be the attitude that keeps the child hooked to the Sport. Participating in the School field day itself helps to build confidence but if luck do not favor or for some reason, the child fails, his willingness to accept defeat is on back seat. Why me? Why I lost? And this frustration plays the role of your child's mental process. Feelings of hopelessness and guilt has taken roots within his brain cells and he seems to be hurt to extent that makes him fling things, be destructive, have a sense of withdrawal from people and hve unreasonable fears or phobias that he is a failure and cannot accept defeat under any circumstances.

In such situations, I feel that a parental / teacher's attitude towards the child can pull him out of his hurt feelings and face defeat in a positive manner:

-Parental calm and positive influence play a major role. Kids need to be treated with respect and love, with no ridiculing, sarcastic remarks or let downs. Expectations may be towards winning way but sports should be ‘sharp one’ Attitude with lots of entertainment and humor. Show him the love and say soothing words "Yeah, sure you tried your best but anyways, there's always another chance. All cannot win, after all"

-Talking Therapy works wonders. Divert the mind from game play and indulge in interesting talks or stories. The child memory is too short lived and his resentment can be turned into a lively kid by talking to him about all he likes and is interested in.

- Check the mood blues by adding in creativity. The inflated self esteem needs to be worn back again. The higher children's self esteem, the better able they are to cope with the ups and downs of life. The more self esteem the child develops, the more secure they are in confronting obstacles, fears and defeats. Kids with low self esteem see problems as grounds for quitting and often say "I quit or I give up" and flair. Instead of comparing their achievements with their own goals and potential, they compare themselves with others and get frustrated.

- Let the kid develop sense of being optimistic. There is always another day to win instead of feeling 'I Lost' Give your own example and recollect your own childhood days. Narrate a few of your ups n downs, twists n turns and talk to the kid, how you faced odd situations and embarrassments.

-Failure is never final, success is never ending - Build Sports spirit in the child and teach him the first steps to face challenges in life. Defeat is only a challenge. Talk to the kid to build a positive sense of identity. Who I am? Why I failed? Is my attitude okay? And the realization comes through when the child is helped to understand own self, own weak points. He should be disciplined to know and act what is right - what is wrong behavior. This self realization makes the kid a well balanced mind and disciplined in his behavior during times of his frustration.

-Make the child more tolerant. The kids who learn to cope with bad times and its this time when values of tolerance is more necessary for them to divert their minds to shrug off the hatred from the heart. An emotional trauma needs much more care than a broken bone. Talk to the kid with love and care. Treat him nice instead of being angry or saying harsh words. Words break the heart more, so let not the parental anxiety/anxiousness add fuel to fire and keep the cool, calm n composed self to turn the situation normal. Time heals.

Some kids tend to be aggressive and always be the winner. It is during these times Sports Spirits instill the faith, courage, loyalty, tolerance, brotherhood, all natural virtues which prepare to support in difficult situations without weaknesses. Anger, frustration, self pity, all the so called negative emotions generally have a bad effect on performances, after all.

( Suggested Reading : Honing skills - Whiff of sports-An article from my book 'Guardian of Angels)

I guess, we all need to keep the Sports Spirit live even when we see our favorite Soccer team winning or losing the game! And, cross the fingers, I hope Germany to win and may score 3-1 over Spain in the semi finals Soccer today as they have been the most impressive team in South Africa.

- ilaxi patel

Newspaper for Kids

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