Parenting a Champ
Expert session Questions and Answers
Well, a load of open communication with them always helps with many things. As per psychology children can start identifying their likes and dislikes even before the age of 10 however these thoughts need to be fanned a bit with open discussion without criticism of ability or talent expectation.
Typically in parenting we think children cannot do what they think they can and that they are just building castles in the air but that is not true. When they get the right exposure and encouragement they certainly give more than 100% to exhibit what they are capable of. Trust them and they will deliver their goals.
Honestly, there is no such proof. Just because schooling gave the required certificates doesn’t mean you have a steady or assured job or income for that matter. It is always a give and take. With our style of parenting we are only enabling our children to identify their strengths early on and believing in them. Quite often we all have realised our passion after we hit 20 or 30 years of age which as parents we have realised that if we could empower our kids early on with that passion they are ready to take on anything they feel is good for them.
Our son showed interest in cars at an early age of 3 by sitting and reading car books and details about them with his grandpa. His favourite pastime on a drive would be to sit in his car seat and identify the brand of every car that went by. He would have a keen eye on how we drove the car, how we used the ABC of the car and the steering etc. There were days when we used to be scared that if he got his hands on the keys he would attempt to drive so we decided to channelise his energy and took him to a karting track close to the out house and nothing is stopping him after that. You can go to his FB page which is- racer Ranvir and see all his work from the age of 5.5 years onwards.
Well I run a school and yet I feel that academics doesn’t define any individual – individuality does. It is important to respect every individual for what he or she likes and appreciates, and not for what we want them to like. Having said that we homeschooled our son for a while so he can focus on his racing so we too get to know that he genuinely means what he says. Mind it he was 6 years at that time. He did wonders and showed us that he is here to achieve and prove himself and not to prove anything for us. Suppose you are told to focus on your office work and also pick up an educational stream to complete a Phd maybe, do you think you can give equal importance to both? Well undoubtedly you would try but it’s a bit tough to keep your legs stable on 2 different boats. So we allowed our son to choose his passion, however we took care of his learning at home. Now that he goes to a higher grade he is schooling and pursuing his passion as he has learnt to balance both.
Children should be allowed to experience as many things as they can, not what we think they can. They should be asked for their choices and then taken to all those streams without judging their abilities at the first 2nd 3rd 4th 5th or any such early attempts. Any form of learning will show results only after 3-4 months of continuous practise and until then we as parents must learn to take a back step and encourage every effort and not just look for results. Well there will be situations where your child’s interest may drift after a time and that is where parenting needs to stand strong and support irrespective of that drift. When Ranvir chose racing for himself, we wanted to test his further interests so we took him skating, badminton, tennis, swimming etc but he always came back to racing. So much that one afternoon we were having a private chat over an ice-cream when he was 7 years old and he told us that racing is my life and I am happy only on the racing track. I personally being a child psychologist still consulted my gurus and was told to go with the flow and we did so.
Yes we have faced that. All of us have setbacks and children should have a lot to learn from it. As for our son whenever he couldn’t win a podium we would stand by him and teach him to appreciate the efforts of his peers as they too are there to win. Nobody comes to a race to lose so it’s a constant urge to know what needs to be done better each time. There was this one incident in a race in bangalore where at the age of 8 he took a race quite lightly and ended up losing that race and thereby his points. He stood by us crying and we just held him and said that you know it could have been you there holding that trophy. He instantly realised that moment and etched it at him. He told us that I now know my mistake and trust me that was it. Every single race he went on from there was a win and he ended up as the Asia champion of 2018. There will be setbacks but that’s the time for us as parents to hold their hands and be their punching bag if needed. We are not there at that time to say right or wrong but just to stand strong.
Well racing for kids means go karting in our son’s case. All the present f1 racers start at go karting as early as 6 years of age. There are quite a number of tracks all over India which hold go karting races and a lot of teams as well. There is a small track in Pune as well.
Take him to a park everyday with a ball and introduce him to a goal and kick the ball into the goal. Teach children to focus. Take him over the weekend to play cricket and only to aim to hit the ball from the meat of the bat, it again improves focus. Read books around various interests like science, geography etc. Give them all the time you can and the information they seem to enjoy. Just because our son took to cars and eventually to racing needn’t mean the same path for all car loving kids. Our son has also faced a huge number of accidents and yet he insists on sticking to this sport. We have come across children who faced a few accidents and stopped racing. Children will show signs hence go by that if you keenly want them to take up a passion. The passion could be reading, dancing, singing, orating and anything. Identify it and take it further with whole heartedness and you will see your children put their efforts too. Don’t look for results early on no matter what the activity a child chooses.
Who decides that they may not be good enough? That is our first question. This is what we mean by saying looking for results over looking for efforts. If we expect our kids to be in IIT and also be a boxing champion then I can assure you that you are straight up messing with the child. There is no perfect way of parenting. Each of us here have different kids and hence the path of parenting is also different. Even between 2 kids we feel they are poles apart and I’m sure if you asked your parents about bringing up their kids then they too will have the same answer – ‘dono kitne alag hain.’ This back up plan that we want for kids should be something that we should make if we can and that plan is to make them strong from within, mentally so they know they can face any situation like a cake walk. If one feels yeh kehna asaan hai karna mushkil hai then it is time we reflect on our parenting ways which is not making us strong and thereby not making the child any stronger. Somehow we are always scared or fearful of a setback which is 20% of the times instead we need to focus on the achievements and efforts
which are 80% of the times. Trust me when I say that academics is not a fall back if you think it is so. It is just that we have been brought up that we do believe it is so. Our parents grew up in the independence time so having a secure job was the first important thing to achieve. Our grandparents grew up in pre independence so they had a different motive while bringing up their children. We are in a computer age and our children are growing in a futuristic age so parenting and thought process needs to be more evolved than just thinking that fall back is more important than the actual work itself. Teach children to work hard no matter what they take, teach them to take responsibility and to be honest to themselves before being so to others. They will do wonders to our surprise. It’s time to stop being scared for our children. Hamari nayya paar ho gayi and we did well. They will certainly surpass our achievements.
There are a lot of aspects involved in this. We can discuss this one on one.
Sports and academics are 2 different streams of interest. They need to be viewed separately and not together. If a child is pursuing sports as extracurricular which in itself means extra then don’t expect the child to do wonders in that sport. If you thought that going for an evening hour of class for badminton or tennis or cricket or swimming any other sport post school hours meant anything then sorry to burst the bubble that it’s just recreational. Put yourself in the child’s shoes – work from 9-5 by travelling to a workplace where you have to get A or A+ results every year at your appraisal and come back to join swimming classes 3-4 days a week and need to win those competitions too, do you think you can humanly achieve it? I am yet to understand this question of balancing sports with academics, especially if it is a question from the point of view of achieving A+ scores in both. Honestly it is tough on the person looking to do it.
Initially the person may get through with it but eventually it will be a burden in a years to come. Simply put yourself in that place and you will understand what I say. Let us let children be children and teach them to learn at their pace and that way they will learn to take responsibility.
Then it means the child is yet to identify what he or she actually likes. If your pocket and time permits then do get your child to explore as much as possible but also keep guiding your child to understand and narrow down into what will be the interest and how to keenly take it ahead. At times children come under personal peer pressure and are looking to achieve in one way or the other hence would like parents to help them explore as much as possible thereby trying to create an impression in one way or the other. This is just an example I am quoting but if children are not sure then it means they need more time to be able to understand their strength. All of us at some time or the other have done a SWOT analysis when we reached our work space. How many of us have done it with our children every 6 months to see where they stand and how they can go ahead. At our workplace we are told to work on our strengths and hence we even get department shifts based on our strength however when it comes to doping such analysis with children we focus on their weakness and keep insisting they build on the weakness. That is our major fault. It’s time we respect children the way they are and nurture them from the best they can.
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Kavitha, Prafull Singh – Parenting a Champ