Jan 272013
Good Sportsmanship II

Good Sportsmanship II (Photo credit: versageek)


When kids try new things, sometimes it’s a “fit” and sometimes a struggle.

So what’s a parent to do when they find that a child is floundering in a new activity? What if your son is in over his head? Or your daughter is not doing as well as either of you had hoped? What if they even fail outright?

Often, they’re tempted to give up. Just to quit. And with the busy schedule facing most families, supporting that decision can be a real temptation. But what’s the lesson from that? Quitting just makes it easier to quit again later, or, worse still, can stifle the urge to tackle future challenges.

When faced with failure at a new activity, another option is to help your child to take a lesson from the experience. Before they leave a troublesome or difficult activity behind, is there something that they can learn that will help them to do better the next time?

The topic of ‘my child’s failures’ is a tough one for some parents to look at. But here’s a hint: try hard to keep them just that — your   kids’ failures.

[Tweet “Quitting makes it easier to quit again later or to avoid tackling future challenges.”]

If you’re concerned that their performance reflects on you, you’re right. It does. But the performance that most adults care about is the one that has to do with your child’s values and character. The child who picks herself up, dusts herself off and gets back into the game, shows a level of resiliency and confidence that is a credit to both of you.

No teacher, coach or fellow parent ever looked down on a parent whose child gave 100% effort. If your child isn’t talented in sports, but tries and gives his and demonstrated good sportsmanship, you’ll be regarded as a good parent.


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Jan 112013
Cover of "Stand and Deliver"

Cover of Stand and Deliver


Unless you were an advanced math student  at Garfield High School in East LA a couple of decades ago, or a fan of the movie Stand and Deliver, then the news of Jaime Escalante’s passing may have escaped your notice.  If his example touched your life, I’m sure that you were saddened.

According to this NPR article Mr. Esclante described the movie as 90% truth and 10% drama.  I was happy to read that.

Stand and Deliver is the story of Mr. Escalante’s use of higher math as a gateway for his students to harness their ‘ganas’ and excel.  It is one of my favorite inspirational movies.  No matter how many times I see it, there are still moments that bring goosebumps.  And others that bring tears.  Because it’s mostly true.  And it’s a story that illustrates a little bit of what is possible when generosity, discipline, hard work and a refusal to fail are applied.

And that one person with ‘ganas’ and a commitment to excellence can make a difference.  A big, important difference.

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Jan 042013

Student teacher in China teaching children Eng...

Picture this. Your child comes home with a special assignment from school. He’s very excited about it and puts in a lot of time to perfect it. He’s thrilled with the result and can’t wait to take it to school.

A few days later, he comes through the door, picks a fight with a younger sibling and bursts into tears. Finally, he manages to tell you that the project he was so proud of was ‘unacceptable,’ that the teacher wants him to do it over.

What’s your first reaction?

a) Protective – “I’ll straighten this out.”
b) Embarrassed – “MY son always gets good grades.”
c) Angry – “That teacher is picking on my son!”
d) Worried – “This could be damaging to his self esteem.”
e) Grateful- “He’s got someone who’s really going to push him to reach his potential this year.”

I think that lots of parents want to believe that ‘e’ is the right answer…. I just remember wishing that it wasn’t so difficult to stifle all of the other reactions on my way to that answer! Sometimes the urge to protect goes a bit too far.

As parents, it’s not our job to see that our children never experience sadness, disappointment or frustration. As much as most of us would like to, we’re probably not going to be able to keep those things out of their lives — now OR when they become adults. But, we can do the next best thing.

We can invest the time that it takes to prepare them to face life’s struggles.

Instead of trying to shield our kids from ‘negativity’ let’s help them embrace tough situations. Why not use the bumps provided by the classroom or the playground to build the strengths they’ll need when applying for a job or surviving an unhappy supervisor?

Isn’t that real learning?