As a coach, gym director, and parent I often wonder, what are we teaching our kids about commitment? This question usually crosses my mind when a gymnast quits halfway through the season. I remember several times wanting to quit and give up as a gymnast. My mother always made me finish out what I started before calling it quits. The majority of time this was a mood and it eventually passed. Children do not understand what it takes to accomplish goals and it should be our job to show them.
What happens when you sign your child up for a season of gymnastics and they suddenly lose interest, become scared, or a skill is to hard? Do these feelings garnish retirement? I hear many parents say I cannot force my child to do something they do not enjoy. I agree, yes it can be expensive and yes you don’t want to force your child to do something they don’t like but what about the underlying lesson? If we commit to something should we just give up before completion? We live in an instant gratification society. Technology has made everything available to us instantaneously. If we are hungry we can order food right to out door, if we need a new wardrobe we can order it on Amazon and literally have it the next day! Unfortunately not every aspect of our lives is like this. Gymnastics and sports in general require a lot of hard work and effort. If you don’t put in the time you will not see results. If you quit every time your mood changes you won’t end up accomplishing much!
Here are a few practical ways we can teach our kids more about commitment:
Set goals and work hard towards them. Sit down with your kids and write down your goals. When goals are written down it makes them more attainable. Explain that it is going to take a lot of hard work to accomplish these goals, there may even be times when you feel like quitting but with hard work and determination you’ll eventually get there.
Be a positive example and be authentic. Let your kids know when you’re struggling to accomplish your goals. There are always going to be ups and downs and kids need to learn that this is a normal part of life.
Share inspiring true stories about accomplishing goals. I know from my own personal experience nothing gets me more fired up than hearing someone else’s success story. It’s great to hear from others to gain perspective and know that you are not alone.
Make a family motto about commitment. If at first you don’t succeed try, try, again. I would even go as far as printing out your motto and hanging it on the fridge. It’s good to have a constant reminder of your motto and this will also help keep everyone on the same page.
Being open and honest with our children will help them succeed. Remember if you're struggling to accomplish something it will eventually pass. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.