Many of today’s parents are afraid to allow their children to fail; but if kids never fail, they won’t be equipped to face difficulties later in life. They won’t have the opportunity to learn resilience (see Parts 1 & 2). Your instructors need to realize that they’ll be swimming upstream in a culture where many adults are afraid to let kids face challenges and instead offer coddling. The kids who learn to pick themselves off the floor (or mat, as the case may be) will have the best chances at living fulfilling, well-adjusted lives as adults. In fact, their honing this important life skill is even more important than the gymnastics skill they’re struggling to master.
Helping Parents Encourage Resilience
Typically, parents are doing their best to serve their children’s best interests; keep that in mind as you communicate with and partner with them: you both want the same thing in the end. Sometimes parents simply aren’t aware of how their parenting style can negatively impact their children’s development. They may not even realize how important resilience is to their own success in life. Perhaps their own parents were too harsh and left them to themselves when they wish they would have experienced more support, and they’re trying to do better by their own children.
Recognizing Propensities Toward Resilience
Think of your own child as a baby. Chances are that if you have more than one child, you could recognize that some children naturally demonstrated greater resilience than the others. You could see it as they were learning early skills like crawling and walking, stacking blocks or pulling up. Of course, the most resilient one might have also been the one needing the most supervision and struggling most when they started hearing the word “no.” But these positive characteristics makes positively responding to challenges later in life easier for some. The point in recognizing natural propensities is not to be discouraging but to promote your own perseverance in teaching this important skill!
Encouraging Growth in Resilience
Make sure your instructors are mindful of various propensities toward both gymnastics skills and life skills like resilience. Instead of recognizing only the student who has the best form and demonstrates a new skill correctly the first time, an instructor who values life skills will also recognize growth — not only in gymnastics skills but also in life skills. Anytime a student faces the temptation to grow frustrated when a skill doesn’t come easily and pushes through, they’re practicing this important life skill and becoming better prepared for challenges ahead.
Instructors can verbally encourage resilience in students, and communication with parents can be a key component in not only encouraging students in this important area but also in helping parents recognize the importance of it. Your gym can show the value you place on such skills by including them in evaluations and skill update e-mails which you send to parents.